JUUL Labs has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission against 18 manufacturers of pod vapes JUUL says have violated patents and copied the design of the JUUL device.
The complaint, prepared by Washington, D.C. law firm Sterne Kessler on behalf of JUUL Labs, requests that the ITC “prevent the continued importation, distribution, selling, and marketing of the identified products in the United States.”
“The ITC action is part of Juul Labs’ global efforts to defend the company’s intellectual property from infringers, and also serves an important role in the company’s effort to combat illegal underage use of Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS) products,” JUUL announced Thursday.
“The ITC complaint alleges that over 15 entities, based in China, the United States, and France, blatantly develop and sell products based on Juul Labs’ patented technology.”
The complaint names multiple respondents, responsible for a variety of devices and pods JUUL claims infringed its patents in an attempt to grab some of the market JUUL has grown so rapidly in its three-year history. “In contrast to [JUUL Labs], Respondents are mostly bit players and recent entrants in the ENDS market. Seeing an opportunity to capture some of [JUUL Labs’] success with minimal investment, Respondents blatantly emulated the distinctive design of the JUUL system,” JUUL alleges.
How JUUL’s lawyers have determined that one flavor is more attractive to teenagers than another is a mystery, unless they’re simply adopting the logic of tobacco control groups and politicians who would like to ban all flavors. They might be better served by staying in their patent lane and not trying to score points with the FDA by impugning the motives of other e-liquid manufacturers — especially since JUUL’s own mango and mint flavors are among the most popular on the market among all age groups.
JUUL has already said publicly that eliminating flavors from its products is “on the table,” as the company grapples with an order from the FDA to produce a plan to prevent youth use of its products. JUUL probably depends less on flavors than the open-systems portion of the U.S. vaping market, for which a flavor ban would deliver an immediate death sentence.
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