February 18, 2019
Last month, National Tobacco Company and its sister company North Atlantic Operating Company (NAOC) won a preliminary injunction against AAA Traders, Inc., after finding the company bought and sold at least 1,552 cartons of counterfeit Zig-Zag® Orange cigarette papers. The injunction prevents AAA from manufacturing, buying or marketing any counterfeit Zig-Zag or other NAOC products.
The ruling from Judge Michael L. Brown of the U.S. District Court in Atlanta comes after NAOC filed suit against AAA alleging trademark and copyright infringement, among other violations. The suit claims AAA purchased the counterfeit products from unauthorized sellers at prices dramatically below market standards. Judge Brown ruled the counterfeit products caused irreparable harm to NAOC, rendering them unable to control the quality and safety of the products.
“This injunction is an important win in our ongoing fight against counterfeiters,” said LeAnne Moore, Assistant General Counsel for National Tobacco Company. “We know that counterfeit products not only endanger our business model, but they also create substantial risks for consumers who may be unaware that the product is not up to industry standards.”
National Tobacco and NAOC are subsidiaries of Kentucky-based, Turning Point Brands, Inc. (NYSE:TPB), an industry leading marketer and producer of Other Tobacco Products (OTP). TPB has consistently prioritized safeguarding the viability and continued advancement of the industry through a series of strategic efforts, including a zero tolerance campaign against counterfeiters.
While Zig-Zag is not the only cigarette paper targeted by counterfeiters, it has been ahead of the curve in leading the industry to take a firm zero-tolerance stance and pursuing substantial litigation against counterfeiters. The Zig-Zag Zero Tolerance Campaign uses marketplace monitoring, improved compliance programs that incentivize partners to report counterfeits, and increased communication and coordination with law enforcement agencies to aggressively find and punish those who are violating National Tobacco’s rights and hurting our distributor and retailer partners’ legitimate businesses.
National Tobacco works with retailers and wholesalers as well as consumers to teach them how to identify counterfeit Zig-Zag products and how to report products suspected to be counterfeit. Last year, National Tobacco launched authenticzigzag.com to give consumers as well as its salesforce an easily accessible tool to learn how to a spot counterfeit Zig-Zag products.
“We are proud of our victories to date to stop the circulation of counterfeit products and to punish those responsible,” added Moore. “Turning Point Brands and National Tobacco are committed to consumer safety as well as creating a positive environment for the industry’s continued growth.”
Over the last decade, National Tobacco and NAOC have successfully achieved significant civil and criminal wins around the country, showing the consequences of counterfeiting Zig-Zag products. From federal criminal sentences, deportations, multimillion dollar judgments, seizures of an entire business, and seizures of virtually all of the inventories of businesses to satisfy judgments, National Tobacco and NAOC have shown their commitment to protecting its legitimate customers and making counterfeit products a thing of the past.