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Philip Morris, Sega Reach Settlement in Trademark Suit


NEW YORK (AP) _ Philip Morris USA and Sega Enterprises Inc. said Thursday they have settled a lawsuit by the cigarette maker aimed at forcing the video game purveyor to remove Marlboro logos from a popular children’s video game.

Both companies said the settlement showed their concern over the misuse of marketing symbols that could encourage children to smoke.

But tobacco critics said the settlement didn’t go far enough, and some said it appeared to be a public relations stunt by the maker of the world’s best- selling smoke.

″It’s a hoax. It’s one more of Philip Morris’s cruel hoaxes,″ said Dr. John W. Richards of the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. He is president of Doctors Ought to Care or DOC, an anti-smoking group.

The settlement came more than a year after Philip Morris USA threatened trademark action against Sega over Marlboro logos in the game, ″Super Monaco GP,″ a racing game.

Under terms of the settlement, Sega has agreed to place full-page color advertisements offering $200 payments to distributors, owners and operators for removing Marlboro trademarks from games.

In the ads, Sega offers to send a free conversion kit containing decals, computer chips and instructions needed to remove Marlboro trademarks and symbols. The $200 payment would be made for each converted game upon receipt of the old computer chips by Sega.

The ads will run for three consecutive months in Replay and Playmeter, the leading trade magazines for the video arcade game industry.

″This settlement is important to Philip Morris because it effectively eliminates our Marlboro brand logos from a video arcade game used by children,″ John R. Nelson, senior vice president for corporate affairs at Philip Morris USA.

The tobacco maker said it first demanded in late 1989 that Sega remove Marlboro references in its games. Under a March 1990 agreement Sega said it would do so. But Philip Morris USA sued Sega in February 1991 after it became clear that a number of Sega games still contained the logos.

Philip Morris USA is the tobacco subsidiary of Philip Morris Cos., the nation’s biggest consumer products conglomerate with an array of brands ranging from Miller beer to Jell-O dessert. Sega is a leading distributor of Sega video arcade game machines such as Super Monaco, Spiderman and R360.

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