GPSA

 

 

 

 

 

Your Ref:

Our Ref:

TM3008777/CEW

Date:

31 August 2006

 

 

 

 

Dear Sirs

 

South Africa :  Infringement of intellectual property rights in the PETER STUYVESANT product

 

1.                We act on behalf of American Cigarette Company (Overseas) Ltd.  Our clients are the proprietor of the extremely well known PETER STUYVESANT trade marks for cigarettes in South Africa.

 

2.                Our clients own numerous trade mark registrations for the get-up of their PETER STUYVESANT cigarettes as well as trade marks for STUYVESANT and INTERNATIONAL PASSPORT TO TOBACCO PLEASURE.  As a result of the extensive sale of our clients’ PETER STUYVESANT cigarettes in South Africa for many years the get-up of the cigarettes is extremely well known and constitutes a well known trade mark within the meaning of this term.

 

3.                In marketing their products our clients comply strictly with all relevant legislation relating to tobacco products.  In particular our clients may not and do not advertise their products and the products are not sold to children.

 

4.                Our clients’ packaging also bears the requisite health warnings.

 

5.                It is with considerable concern that our clients have noted a parody of their PETER STUYVESANT get-up in the past jokes section on your website under the heading “unique product from KZN”.

 

6.                Apart from the obvious harm to our clients’ intellectual property rights in their PETER STUYVESANT packet, your representation flies in the face of the relevant tobacco legislation.  The situation is exacerbated by your link to cannabis, more commonly known as dagga in South Africa, which is a prohibited product.  Your distortion of the regulatory health warnings by making a joke of pregnant women smoking dagga is particularly offensive.

 

7.                It is perhaps apposite now to quote from your home page which states:

 

“Please note that this site is content rated and contain (sic) material that might offend more sensitive people.  I am protected by the South African constitution on free speech and declare that I’m not a member of any right or left wing organisations seeking to destabilize nor disrupt the governing party of this country.”

 

8.                The right of free speech has its limitations.  We believe that your associating our clients’ product with cannabis and “dope smoking” pregnant mothers exceeds such rights.

 

9.                We have accordingly been instructed to demand, as we hereby do, that you immediately remove the representation from your website.  Failing compliance with this demand our clients reserve their rights to institute appropriate legal proceedings in the High Court in order to protect their PETER STUYVESANT product.  Our clients will also bring your conduct to the attention of the relevant health and tobacco regulatory bodies in order that they may take whatever further civil or criminal action they deem appropriate.

 

10.              We look forward to receiving your immediate confirmation that you have removed the offending material.  We confirm that we will monitor your website and in the absence of such removal you can expect further action to be taken without warning or notice.

 

Yours faithfully

Spoor & Fisher

 

 

 

Charles Webster

CEW/je