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February 4, 2021

Tobacco Patent War May Lead to a U.S. Ban of IQOS

An intellectual property claim by RJ Reynolds could shut down United States sales of Philip Morris International’s controversial IQOS product before PMI’s partner Altria is able to launch the device on a national scale. IQOS is currently sold in a few test markets, including Atlanta and Richmond.

IQOS is a heated tobacco product (HTP—sometimes called heat-not-burn or HNB). Unlike e-liquid-based vapes, it heats actual tobacco until a vapor is produced. IQOS has been sold since 2014 in many Asian and European countries. American tobacco giant Altria is licensing IQOS from PMI for sale in the U.S. Other tobacco companies have their own HTPs, including British American Tobacco (glo) and Japan Tobacco (Ploom).

Reynolds American (RAI, or RJ Reynolds), a subsidiary of British American Tobacco (BAT), says that IQOS infringes its HTP patents, and is asking the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to block future imports of the product. The two companies have also traded lawsuits in a Virginia federal court.

“BAT’s attempt to secure an importation ban against IQOS in the U.S. is part of a broader global strategy meant to undermine the heated-tobacco segment, where they lag far behind, and protect their core cigarette business,” PMI said in a statement.

The ITC represents the public in the ongoing ITC trial, and has indicated support for two of Reynolds’ patent claims, according to Bloomberg. A final decision by the ITC judge will be made by September. If IQOS is ordered off the market, the action will take effect in November.

IQOS has been approved for sale in the U.S. through both the FDA through both the Premarket Tobacco Application (PMTA) and Modified Risk Tobacco Product (MRTP) pathways, meaning that the agency has determined the product is “appropriate for the protection of public health.”. BAT and Reynolds are not currently selling any HTP products in the U.S., and it is unclear if a PMTA has been submitted for BAT’s glo device.

RJ Reynolds launched the first primitive HTP, called Premier, in 1988 (it was withdrawn a year later), and tried again a few years later with Eclipse, which remained on the market for nearly two decades, but achieved little success.

Smokers created vaping without any help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and vapers have the right to keep innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I recently joined the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy
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Bruce R Estrella
Bruce R Estrella
4 months ago

Ya, Don’t Vape but Smoke all you want. Makes alot of sense. National Tobacco Companies can not loose money. Bunch of hypocrites that come up with their Brilliant Idea’s.

ventress K seals
ventress K seals
4 months ago

do you have any info on HCMC’s lawsuit against PMI?

Bruce R Estrella
Bruce R Estrella
4 months ago

I Vape and I enjoy it. No they want you to buy those Cigarettes. They don’t want you to Save alot and I mean alot of money, so keep buying those real killer CIGARETTES. I know I use to smoke pack to a pack and a half a day. You know how much money your throwing away. But don’t VAPE you get popcorn lungs. If you believe all that Bullshit and I mean Real Bullshit then just keep smoking all those Cigarettes. But at the End of the week and you’ve gone through all that money you pay for just… Read more »

Glenn
Glenn
4 months ago

Check out this patent number 9,526,270. HCMC patents (not just he one I posted) go back to filing dates in 2012 and 2013.

James
James
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim McDonald

Point would be if the suit had no validity PM would have rejected the claim on spec as they did RJR. They did not, they are choosing to wait until deadline to announce their intentions. This would lead most to believe PM at the very least has concerns about the lawsuit.

Josh
Josh
3 months ago
Reply to  James

But PM literally just filed a motion for dismissal last week?

Ronnie
Ronnie
3 months ago

I can’t imagine IQOS being that popular in the US anyways. Cigarettes are too expensive here due to the taxes. I almost never see anyone smoking anymore, probably due to all the bans but I’m betting it’s also cause they’re like $8-10 a pack in my state (i see more vaping than smoking these days).

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