BAT Sues PMI, Claims Patent Infringement
Lawsuit The Latest In Ongoing Dispute Between Big Tobacco Giants
Big tobacco has desperately attempted to adjust to an ever-changing and evolving marketplace over the last decade, to mixed results. Between acquisitions of established vapor companies, to the research and development of new smokeless technologies, these companies are doing all they can to remain viable in a market that’s rapidly moving away from combustible tobacco.
British American Tobacco (BAT) has filed a legal challenge against Philip Morris International (PMI) over patents covering their respective “heat-not-burn” devices, Glo and IQOS. BAT alleges that PMI is using patented technology from its Glo device in PMI’s new IQOS product.
PMI has previously sued BAT back in 2018 over an alleged patent breach in Japan, although this lawsuit remains ongoing. The company claimed that BAT’s Glo product infringed on two of their Japanese patents and sought an injunction against the sale of their product in Japan, as well as damages of nearly $1 million.
Meanwhile, BAT filed two patent infringement claims against PMI in the U.S., one with the International Trade Commission, and one in Virginia federal court, seeking an injunction against importing IQOS as well as remedies for any potential damages caused. PMI launched IQOS in the United States back in late 2019, vowing to vigorously defend itself against any potential litigation.
British American Tobacco has filed a series of legal challenges against fellow big tobacco giant Philip Morris International, over an alleged patent infringement regarding their respective “heat-not-burn” devices, Glo and IQOS. BAT alleges that PMI used Glo’s patented heating blade technology in the IQOS device, and is seeking an order to halt the import of the product as well as remedies for damages caused.
The company filed two separate patent infringement claims in the United States, one through the International Trade Commission, and one in the Virginia federal court. The two cases will run separately, and the courts’ decisions are independent of one another.
“If we win we may be able to get an ITC exclusion order blocking the importation of IQOS into the U.S. by Philip Morris unless they agree to take a license to our patents,” said BAT spokesman Will Hill. “We have seen media reports that BAT has filed legal actions but have not had the opportunity to evaluate its allegations. We can say, however, that we will vigorously defend ourselves,” a Philip Morris spokesperson responded.
Unlike vaporizers, the Glo and IQOS heat-not-burn devices utilize tobacco-filled sticks that when heated, generate an aerosol containing nicotine. Phillip Morris had launched the IQOS device in the U.S. last year, and recently announced plans to roll out the product in Germany as well. IQOS currently remains the market leader in the heat-not-burn sector.
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These lawsuits represent the latest in a series of desperate moves by dying multinational corporations who failed to adapt to clearly defined trends in the marketplace over a decade’s time. Much like big alcohol, big tobacco failed to respond to shifts in consumers’ tastes and preferences, opting instead to squeeze as much profit out of their remaining customer base as possible.
These once powerful companies are now scrambling to adapt, turning to hastily enacted and poorly timed acquisitions of established companies and engaging in frivolous litigation among themselves, much like big alcohol. As the market rapidly continues to move away from tobacco and toward vapor products, these once-grand companies will continue to flounder and deserve every moment of their slow demise.
What are your thoughts regarding the lawsuit brought against PMI by BAT? How do you believe the ongoing legal dispute between these two companies will ultimately pan out? Let us know what you think in the comments below, don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news as well!
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