RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – Four companies that sell “synthetic marijuana substitute” cigarettes under the “Newprot” label violate the famous “Newport” trademark and trade dress, Lorillard Tobacco claims. The smokes the defendants sell as “potpourri herbal blends” or “herbal incense” are known on the street as Spice or K2. They are sprayed with drugs that mimic THC, an active ingredient in marijuana, according to the federal complaint.
Lorillard sued four Virginia-based companies: California Imports, Sunrise Wholesale, Global Market Direct Ltd., and M.H.M.A. Corp., and their directors and agents.
The defendant smokes are sprayed with chemicals that may include JWH-018, HU-210, and CP 47,497, according to the complaint. The chemicals are similar to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), one of the active ingredients in marijuana, but “the synthetic chemicals are substantially more potent than naturally occurring THC,” according to the complaint.
“Though many ‘spice’ products are labeled as ‘herbal incense’ ‘not for human consumption,’ that labeling is purely for show,” Lorillard says in its complaint.
“This product is no mere ‘potpourri’; most, if not all, purchasers of ‘spice’ purchase such products with the intent of smoking the incense in an effort to get high.”
The complaint cites several recent news reports about synthetic pot, most of which offer damning evidence of the dangers associated with the emerging drug.
Lorillard says nine states have banned spice, and more states are planning to.
The complaint adds: “In a transparent rip-off of Lorillard’s marks, defendants each market and sell a variety of menthol ‘spice’ under the name Newprot. This blatant attempt to trade on the distinctive and famous Newport marks is all the more brazen because defendants market the Newprot herbal incense in packaging that pirates the Newport trade dress.”
Lorillard seeks an injunction and damages for trademark infringement and unfair competition. It also wants the companies to deliver all their Newprot packaging and marketing materials to Lorillard for destruction, and punitive damages.
Lorillard is represented by Robert Tyler with McGuire Woods.