Juul Labs is suing four more companies trying to ride Juul’s coattails to profit. Their suit, the latest case in a string of lawsuits filed by the vaping giant, alleges that four New Jersey-based companies — one of them called Juul Monster — infringed on Juul’s trademarks. Part of the suit revolves around the use of a cartoon logo, also called the Juul Monster.
Juul filed the suit Thursday against Juul Monster, K&R Products, Status Distribution, and Status Vapes, as well as people associated with the companies. The suit alleges that the defendants use the names “Juul Monster,” “Juul Mega Store,” and a cartoon Juul Monster logo to market a variety of pods and vapes, including but not limited to Juul products.
The Juul Monster logo, which Juul Monster tried to trademark, shows a little monster puffing on a Juul. (The monster apparently sometimes wears holiday accessories like a Santa hat, or reindeer antlers.) In the complaint, Juul says the logo could be bad for Juul’s reputation because of its potential appeal to underage vapers: “The monster’s small stature and impish expression also suggests that the character is himself a rebellious child or teen that enjoys using the product.”
What’s worse, from Juul’s perspective, is that pods made by other companies and marketed by the Juul Monster come in kid friendly-flavors, like “green apple hard candy” and “berry lemonade.” Juul has been criticized for its social-media marketing strategy. ad campaigns, and flavors that appeal to young people. In November, the company announced that it had cut its supply of fruity or desert-flavored pods to stores. Juul also pledged to amp up its age verification measures, and increase the number of undercover shoppers who investigate whether retailers are following the rules.
While Juul stayed on Twitter for “non-promotional communications only,” the company went quiet on its Facebook and Instagram accounts. “Since then, we have caught other companies aggressively and illegally selling counterfeit or unauthorized Juul-compatible nicotine cartridges that are often unregulated and potentially targeted at youth,” Wayne Sobon, vice president of Intellectual Property at Juul Labs, said in a statement text-messaged to The Verge.