New York Vs Yesmoke
Yesmoke, the site of “Smugglers”, has set an unquestionable record: its cigarettes do not arrive at night on dark beaches and they are not sold by pushers; they arrive by regular airline flights, they have all their documents in order and they are delivered by the local mailman.
The “Total fiasco” of Big Tobacco
The State of New York prohibited in 2003 any type of shipment of cigarettes by mail in the State, placing itself in open contrast with Federal laws that govern the mail and customs services all over the nation.
New York's efforts were a total fiasco: the USPS seemed pretty indifferent to the problems of Philip Morris, and cigarettes continued to reach their customers without any interruption, protected by the US Constitution that guarantees the free interstate circulation of goods in the home of the free market.
Also the sentence favorable to Philip Morris, which condemned Yesmoke for “Copyright Violation and Unfair Competition”, found the American Post Office and Customs Department totally indifferent.
On August 18th 2004, the judge set at 17 million dollars the sum that Yesmoke had to pay to the City of New York.
- February 2, 2004: The City of New York Sues Yesmoke;
- August 18, 2004: Sentence in favour of the City of New York.
It's like playing with the slot machines of Las Vegas: Philip Morris is trying to make gains all over the place.
The colossus is putting on a real show of the power it has over the American public apparatus bringing onto the field the City of New York, a versatile no smoking hospital ship, that when needed can transform itself into a battleship for Big Tobacco. All in strident contrast with the behavior of the US Mail Service, that doesn't care about the demands of the Tobacco Colossus and of New York City's lawyers.
This last attack against Yesmoke was intended to be the fatal pistol shot in the duel between the multinational tobacco producer and the world's number one online shop, that was getting ready to start production of its own brand in Switzerland, just a few steps from the Philip Morris plants.
“Criminal association” would lead to the shifting of the issue up to a penal level, and would be a winning card for the Multinational Company. Criminal association, the mafia and terrorism, in fact, are the only crimes that allow US courts to request and obtain the preventive and automatic block of the Swiss bank accounts of a Swiss Company based only on a sentence that comes from overseas. So a Swiss company, with all its workers, can be knocked out from one day to the next, if it does not present itself at the opening of this new (and very expensive) game: the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupted Organization Act), that includes, besides those reported in the title above, an infinite number of other potential accusations.
This suit then, is added to the other very expensive top level lawsuits raised against Yesmoke by Philip Morris: for Copyright Infringement and Unfair Competition, that led to the shift of property of the Yesmoke.com domain to Philip Morris, and to try to make Yesmoke pay a "fine" of 548 million dollars in damage compensation for having sold to US customers Marlboros not meant for the American market (In the sentence of 10 March 2005, Judge Gerard E. Lynch awarded Philip Morris "only" $173,734,291.62).
With these and with other lawsuits that are probably on the way, the Tobacco Colossus is trying to defeat its antagonist using the classical method of "Bleeding him white through legal expenses", because, to defend itself and prove it is foreign to the accusations, a company must always present itself at the court hearings with a line-up of lawyers: if it doesn't appear, it automatically loses.
- Judge Gerard E. Lynch - Civil appearance sheet - United States District Court - Southern District of New York, 20/08/2004