Tobacco giants strike Drum deal

Imperial Tobacco is to launch its hand-rolling tobacco brand Drum in the UK following the resolution of a trademark dispute with rival Gallaher.

The row erupted after Gallaher launched a hand-rolling tobacco brand, Richard Lloyd’s Drum, in the UK in an attack on illegal imports of Imperial’s hand-rolling tobacco of the same name (MW July 16 and August 20). The Imperial brand is available on the continent, but Gallaher owns the name Drum in the UK.

The two tobacco companies were due to meet in the High Court on Monday for a full hearing, with Imperial alleging that Gallaher’s Drum brand was confusingly similar to its brand of the same name.

However, the two sides reached agreement before the hearing, and Gallaher has transferred its trademark to Imperial for an undisclosed sum. It stopped selling its version of Drum last Friday.

Graham Blashill, sales and marketing director at Imperial, says: “We are pleased with the outcome of this litigation.”

Imperial bought Douwe Egberts tobacco business from Sara Lee in 1998, acquiring ownership of Drum, the world’s top-selling rolling-tobacco brand. The tobacco is available in the UK under the name Duma and is distributed through Swedish Match in Britain, and Tobacco Distributors in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

It is understood that Imperial will try to reach an arrangement with Duma’s distributors, so that the brand will be withdrawn from the market by the time Drum is introduced to the UK. Imperial plans to launch the brand before the proposed tobacco advertising ban comes into effect.

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