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Altria filed a lawsuit accusing Renault USA of infringing 9 electronic cigarette patents

2020/06/01|Industry news

According to foreign reports, there is a legal battle between the top tobacco companies in China over the intellectual property rights of some nicotine substitutes.

Altria group, a tobacco giant based in henriko County, filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging that a subsidiary of its biggest rival, Renault America, infringed on some of Altria's patents for electronic evaporation and smokeless tobacco products.

A lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in North Carolina alleges that RJ Reynolds steam infringed nine patents of Altria, the largest tobacco company in the United States, and its smokeless tobacco subsidiary in the United States.

RJ Reynolds vapor Co. is a subsidiary of Reynolds American Inc., headquartered in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Renault America is the second largest tobacco company in the United States and a subsidiary of British American Tobacco (London).

Altria's legal claim follows another lawsuit filed on April 9 by three business units of Renault America, alleging that Altria and its former sister company, Philip Morris International, infringed Renault's patent and split up as an independent company in 2008.

Altria's noncombustible technology used in iqos alternative smoking devices sold in the United States under the exclusive license of Philip Morris International.

Altria's lawsuit claims that the design and function (VUSE Alto and VUSE vibe) of Renault steam's two electronic evaporation products infringe the six electronic evaporation product patents owned by Altria. The lawsuit also claims that the smokeless nicotine bag sold by Renault under the velo brand infringes three patents of smokeless tobacco company of the United States.

'we attach great importance to our intellectual property,' said Steve Callahan, a spokesman for the company's parent, Altria group. Reynolds vapor infringes on Altria's intellectual property rights and we are seeking financial compensation for every violation.

The Lawsuit Seeks trial by jury, but does not specify how much economic losses Altria group claims.

In a statement released Thursday, Renault accused Altria of suing for patent infringement claims it filed in April for six Renault products infringed by iqos.

The company said that although we are still reviewing the complaint, we believe it is unreasonable and will vigorously defend the case and our innovative next generation products. Renault has a long history of innovation and investment in the development of next-generation products (such as tobacco heating products for adult smokers, oral tobacco and steam products), and has a strong patent portfolio around its next-generation products, as our patents prove.

By 2015, the VUSE brand's e-evaporation products had risen to be the best-selling products in the U.S. e-evaporation category, according to the lawsuit.

Due to the success of Juul lab's Juul vaporization equipment, VUSE's share in the U.S. e-vapor category fell to less than 10%, the lawsuit said.

Altria Group invested $12.8 billion at the end of 2018 to acquire 35% of Juul labs, a maker of electronic steam products in California.

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