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Philip Morris to shed tobacco tag

New York, Oct. 28 (Reuters): Philip Morris Cos. Inc., parent of the world’s largest cigarette maker, may be close to dropping its tobacco roots from its corporate name, now that a case brought against it by another company over its planned name change has been voluntarily dismissed.

Philip Morris, known for Marlboro and other cigarettes, proposed a change to the name Altria Group Inc. in November 2001. The New York-based company, which also has major stakes in food and beer companies, has said it wanted to change its name to better reflect the difference between the holding company and its operating units.

While it has been almost a year since the company said it wanted to change its name, Philip Morris’ plans to become Altria Group have been slow going, in part because of a case filed against it by Altira Group LLC over the similarity of the proposed Altria Group Inc. name.

The case brought by Altira has now been dismissed, a spokesman for Philip Morris said late on Friday. Litigation was filed in federal court in Colorado for a preliminary injunction against Philip Morris changing its name to Altria Group by Altira Group LLC, a venture capital firm.

Altira Group LLC and Philip Morris Cos. Inc. have resolved the lawsuit brought by Altira Group against Philip Morris “and the case has been voluntarily dismissed,” the spokesman said. He did not disclose whether this move means the company would now go ahead with the name change.

However, the resolution of the case was seen as one of the last hurdles Philip Morris would have to overcome before it would go ahead with the name change.

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