Tobacco firms and especially specialists in marketing devote a good deal of time to defend their tobacco brands from any adulteration and knockoffs.
Not long ago the most popular and top-selling Marlboro cigarette brand has experienced a case of knockoff in Canada. A progressive tobacco company Imperial Tobacco is the owner of Marlboro brand name in Canada for more than eighty years. However, these best-selling cigarettes are associated with another tobacco company – Philip Morris – throughout the entire world.
As Philip Morris company is not entitled to make use of Marlboro brand name in Canada, its cigarette pack look as a real knockoff. The company uses the same white background, similar type of the name and all sorts of elements that are allowed to be used in Canada. However, the question of the brand name still remains as Philip Morris has to use another name like “Matador” or “Maverick.” The problem aroused in 2006 when the tobacco company launched a new packaging. The pack was of similar design, but it did not have any brand name – just a phrase “world popular imported blend” on the side of the package.
The Marlboro packaging released by Imperial Tobacco has the brand name and different design that is distinguished from other Marlboro variants, and as well a maple leaf and the word “Canadian.” However, this is not the problem; the bigger problem is that the Canadian population became accustomed with another Marlboro. Nevertheless, the Federal Court of Appeals has decreed that the brand without name leads to an embarrassment among smoking people.
This case is more difficult as all tobacco products in Canada are prohibited for displaying in any shop. Smoking consumers are not able to see if a particular cigarette brand is available, they should ask for it. In accordance with the polling, many smokers were asking for Philip Morris’s Marlboro cigarettes.
“Even though the packaging does not have the Marlboro brand name, smokers associate these cigarettes with Philip Morris. This can not be the trademark violation as a lack of any literal similarity is not enough for such consideration,” said Johanne Gauthier, representative of the Federal Court of Appeal.
Using knockoffs of a more popular product can be very beneficial for rivals. It is proved that a smoker will buy the lower priced version. Besides if taste and flavor is similar with the original one, the more likely they will prefer cheaper variant.