Courts

RAW Deal? Phoenix Company Seeks Millions In Knockoff Rolling Papers Suit

One of the alleged counterfeit rolling paper boxes bought by investigators.
One of the alleged counterfeit rolling paper boxes bought by investigators. Court Documents
click to enlarge One of the alleged counterfeit rolling paper boxes bought by investigators. - COURT DOCUMENTS
One of the alleged counterfeit rolling paper boxes bought by investigators.
Court Documents
A local company is pursuing a multimillion-dollar trademark lawsuit against an Atlanta-area couple who refused to stop selling knockoff rolling papers.

Lawyers for Phoenix-based HBI International allege in federal court filings that Jillycut's Junk, an eBay smoking-supplies seller, sold around $210 worth of fake RAW brand papers to hired investigators on four occasions. The lawsuit names Mark Giangiuli and Dawn Giangiuli as the defendants and alleged store operators.

The Spain-manufactured RAW papers are trademarked by HBI and marketed as high-quality products free from some of the chemicals present in other rolling papers. But the lawsuit claims the couple sold papers of lower quality, likely manufactured in China or India.

The lawsuit, filed last summer in Michigan but moved to a Georgia court this month, is an escalation of the dispute between the company and the couple. Lawyers for the company in 2019 and 2020 had eBay take down their product listings as counterfeits, according to one lawyer's declaration to the court.

Mark Giangiuli, apparently the primary operator of the business, responded with a series of calls and emails in which he said that HBI was running its business like a "bunch of thugs" and called the lawyer who sent the takedown request an "asshole."

In those messages, cited in court documents, Giangiuli denied selling counterfeit products, said he could produce documentation of their authenticity, and threatened that he would sue over the listings being taken off eBay. None of that apparently ever occurred, although Giangiuli continued to pester the attorney with calls and emails at all hours. His wife, Dawn Giangiuli, also left two voicemails asking about the takedown requests.

Despite Mark Giangiuli's repeated threats to sue, it was actually HBI that sued. The company is asking for all profits derived from the alleged counterfeit sales, damages of at least $2 million for each trademark violation, and further unspecified damages and attorneys' fees. The statute under which the company is asking for damages allows up to $2 million in damages for each "counterfeit mark" and type of goods willfully sold or offered for sale, meaning damages could be much higher.

The couple's attorney generally denied the allegations in a filing but has yet to respond to them in detail. Dawn Giangiuli, an airline employee, said in a declaration that she wasn't involved in the business and only called on her husband's behalf because he had bipolar disorder and was very frustrated. She said he says regrettable things when he gets angry or upset.

Neither side's attorneys responded to inquires by Phoenix New Times Friday afternoon. The case may stretch on for a while; discovery isn't due until August.
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Erasmus Baxter is a staff writer for Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Erasmus Baxter