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Philip Morris has filed eight lawsuits in California and New York, alleging that more than a dozen Web sites are violating state and federal trademark laws by selling cigarettes. The maker of Marlboro and Virginia Slims is asking courts to have its products removed from the sites and to have the sites post court-approved admissions of guilt. Philip Morris contends each site uses the Marlboro logo without a company affiliation. The lawsuit also alleges the sites are selling products made abroad by Philip Morris and intended for non-American markets. It also alleges the sites do not practice reasonable safeguards to prevent the sale of cigarettes to those under the age of 18. The company is seeking the profits from sales of its products on each site, plus attorney fees. The Internet has become a haven for cigarette buyers seeking to avoid rising state tobacco taxes. Cigarette taxes are now $1.50 per pack in New York and New Jersey, while the Massachusetts tax will increase to $1.51 per pack Oct. 1. “We are aware of 600 sites out there selling cigarettes,” Philip Morris spokesman Brendan McCormick said. “But there’s a limit to what we can do on our own, which is why we’re working with law-enforcement officials.” Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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