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General Cigar Files Suit against Alleged Counterfeiters of COHIBA Cigars

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 11, 2006--General Cigar Co., Inc. announced today that the company has filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Nevada seeking damages and a preliminary injunction against seven defendants who market and distribute "COHIBA Caribbean's Finest" cigars.

The counterfeiting operations of COHIBA Caribbean's Finest were discovered through months of joint efforts by General Cigar's field sales and a special task force retained by the company as part of an ongoing, nationwide effort to aggressively investigate, pursue and eliminate such counterfeit products from the marketplace.

Gerry Roerty, vice president and general counsel of General Cigar, commented, "This initiative is part and parcel of an assertive effort to address a pernicious problem which infringes and dilutes General Cigar's strong and distinctive COHIBA(R) trademark. As the only legitimate owner of the COHIBA(R) mark in the U.S., we are committed to protecting our rights and to prosecuting those who intentionally make false representations to consumers regarding the COHIBA(R) brand."

Norman F. Sharp, president of the Cigar Association of America, said, "Counterfeit cigars erode the prestige, profitability and reputation of the handmade, premium cigar industry. While there is no reliable data available on the volume of counterfeit cigars being sold in the U.S., recent crackdowns have indicated that the problem is much larger than even industry insiders had estimated. In fact, even if such sales account for a small percentage of the estimated $800 million which consumers spent on premium cigars last year, it is an alarmingly profitable business for counterfeiters."

The marketing practices of COHIBA Caribbean's Finest suggest they are aware of General Cigar's exclusive ownership of the COHIBA(R) trademark. The counterfeit cigars prominently use General Cigar's COHIBA(R) trademark and copy the bold black uppercase font.

COHIBA Caribbean's Finest has attempted to gain registration of the COHIBA Caribbean's Finest brand as a trademark for cigars under both state and federal law. In addition, the company has actively attempted to secure distribution of COHIBA Caribbean's Finest cigars to customers of General Cigar.

In February of 2005, a United States Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed General Cigar's exclusive ownership of the COHIBA(R) mark in the United States.

Gerry Roerty remarked, "Considering the aggressive marketing and distribution tactics of COHIBA Caribbean's Finest, we felt it was time to take immediate legal action against them."

The lawsuit marks the latest step in General Cigar's ongoing, concerted effort to stamp out counterfeits of its trademarks. The company has retained a special task force consisting of attorneys and a team of private investigators from across the United States, the majority of whom formerly served as federal and/or state prosecutors or law enforcement agents.

The COHIBA line of premium cigars is handcrafted in the Dominican Republic and is a favorite among cigar connoisseurs. In addition to the COHIBA hallmark line, General Cigar manufactures and markets COHIBA XV which was introduced in 2001.

About General Cigar

General Cigar Co., Inc., a subsidiary of Swedish Match, manufactures and markets handcrafted cigars for the premium market. Committed to delivering cigars of the finest quality, General Cigar produces Macanudo cigars(R), Partagas cigars(R), COHIBA cigars(R), Punch cigars(R), Excalibur cigars(R), Hoyo de Monterrey cigars(R), La Gloria Cubana cigars(R) and several other leading premium brands. In addition, the company grows its own premium Connecticut Shade wrapper tobacco, as well as natural and candela wrapper in the Dominican Republic. General Cigar also operates Club Macanudo(R), a cigar bar in New York City. Based in New York City, General Cigar sells through tobacconists nationwide. For more information, please visit

(R)COHIBA, Macanudo, Partagas, Punch, Excalibur, Hoyo de Monterrey, La Gloria Cubana and Club Macanudo are registered trademarks of General Cigar Co., Inc.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

General Cigar Files Suit against Alleged Counterfeiters of COHIBA Cigars