Pfizer Helps Bring Down Phony Viagra Kingpin in Trademark Infringement Settlement

July 12th, 2010

Martin Hickman was formerly a kingpin with a very visible portfolio; a villa on Spain’s Costa del Sol, a Bentley, a diamond-studded Rolex and a flat in London were prominent display pieces of his newly acquired wealth. Hickman utilized some 150 Websites to sell more than $10.4 million worth of counterfeit pills (mostly the widely recognized and counterfeited E.D. medication Viagra) between 2003 and 2007.trademark infringement

However there is was a hitch in Hickman’s plan; the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is prosecuting individuals and companies benefitting from the sale of counterfeit drugs.

Pfizer’s chief security officer, John Clark, stated that, “the point is to make them realize that there’s no sense from a business perspective in counterfeiting our products, because if we find you, we’re taking your money away.”

Until recently, Hickman had largely been able to avoid any real legal sanctions for his illegal activities. For instance, in 2007 he was sentenced to only three months in jail for contempt of court. This came just under a year after he received a court order to stop advertising Viagra and other impotence pills on the Internet. His Websites kept advertising and Hickman was able to skate with only serving only three months. Clark acknowledged that, “a three-month penalty is not going to discourage you from going back and doing it again.”

After Hickman’s three months in jail, Pfizer won permission from the High Court in London to raid his home and office and then the pharmaceutical company brought suit against Hickman for trademark-infringement. Hickman agreed to a $1.73 million out-of-court settlement.

Justice keeps catching up to Hickman, as the Sidney Morning Herald reports that, “in June last year, Hickman pleaded guilty to six counts of selling and supplying fake and unlicensed medicines and money laundering, and was sentenced to two years in jail. Legal action to seize his assets is under way.”

For more information on Martin Hickman and the Pfizer anti-counterfeit pills campaign;

Pfizer Spies Find Spanish Villa in Fake Viagra Bust (Update1)

Pfizer: Civil Suits for Drug Counterfeiters

Pfizer establishes global force to halt fake Viagra