November 26, 2018

JUUL Goes After Compatible Pods and Flavors

JUUL Labs has filed a patent complaint against 24 individuals and businesses, alleging infringement and asking the International Trade Commission to bar the products from being imported or sold in the United States. All 24 entities make, sell or distribute JUUL-compatible pods.

JUUL has also filed “mirror lawsuits” in 10 U.S. district courts, according to Bloomberg. Those federal suits were filed in Camden, NJ; New Haven, CT; Wilmington, DE; Rochester, NY; Chicago, IL; Denver, CO; Minnesota; and three cities in Florida.

In addition to claiming patent infringement by the 24 respondents, JUUL Labs alleges that all of the products named in the complaint were introduced to the market in 2018, which makes them subject to FDA action. New products introduced after Aug. 8, 2016 are required by the FDA’s Deeming Rule to go through premarket review before they can be sold. No vapor product manufacturer has yet submitted a premarket tobacco application (PMTA), including JUUL Labs.

JUUL voluntarily removed its mango, fruit and creme (brulee) flavors from the retail market in response to the FDA’s threats

The JUUL complaint also alleges that the respondents’ products are filled with e-liquid in China, which JUUL suggests means shoddy manufacturing standards and possibly unsanitary conditions. Factories and labs in China have manufactured e-cigarettes and vaping products for more than a decade, mostly with high standards. And so far there are no FDA manufacturing standards regulations for e-cigarettes.

These are the products and businesses named in the complaint:

  • X Pods – United Wholesale LLC (Glastonbury, CT); Saddam Aburoumi (Manchester, CT)
  • Loon Pods – Maduro Distributors, Inc (Maplewood, MN)
  • Iced Pods – DripTip Vapes LLC (Plantation, FL); Ziip Lab S.A. (Uruguay); Ziip Lab Co. (China), Ltd.; Shenzhen Yibo Technology Co., Ltd. (China)
  • Atom Pods – Drip Tip Vapes LLC
  • ViV Pods – Vapor 4 Life Holdings, Inc. (Northbrook, IL); DripTip Vapes LLC
  • Airbender ZPods – Vaperz LLC (Frankfurt, IL); Ziip Lab S.A.; Ziip Lab Co., Ltd.; Shenzhen Yibo Technology Co., Ltd.; Drip Tip Vapes LLC; The ZFO (Spencerport, NY); The Electric Tobacconist, LLC (Boulder, CO)
  • JC01 Pods – Shenzhen OVNS Technology Co., Ltd. (China); MistHub, LLC (Buffalo Grove, IL); The ZFO; Lan & Mike International Trading Inc. (Torrance, CA — doing business as VaporDNA)
  • Q Pods – Vaportronix, LLC (Aventura, FL); The ZFO
  • Fuma/Fumo Pods – Fuma Vapor, Inc. (Des Plaines, IL); The ZFO
  • Zalt Pods – Vape4U LLC (Montclair, CA); The ZFO
  • Magic Mist Pods – ParallelDirect LLC (Lincolnshire, IL)
  • J Pods/Ref Pods – Shenzhen Haka Flavor Technology Co., Ltd. (Chna); Shenzhen OCIGA Technology Co., Ltd. (China); Lizard Juice, LLC (Largo, FL)
  • Blankz Pods – The Electric Tobacconist, LLC; Lan & Mike International Trading Inc (VaporDNA)
  • Edge Pods – The ZFO; The Electric Tobacconist, LLC
  • 5-Star/Universal Pods – Sarvasva LLC (Maple Shade, NJ — doing business as One Stop Food Mart)
  • Sex Pods – Noah Dovberg (Daytona Beach, FL – doing business as sexvapor.co)
  • Sea100 Pods – Twist Vapor Franchising, LLC (Tampa, FL); The ZFO

Selling JUUL-compatible pods is apparently an industry unto itself. Several of the respondents are named in conjunction with multiple products. The ZFO is alleged to be connected to the manufacture or sale of seven different pod products. Drip Tip Vapes is connected to four of the cited pods, and The Electric Tobacconist three. Four of the other companies are associated with two different products.

This is the second such complaint filed by JUUL Labs. In October, JUUL filed a similar patent infringement action against 18 different manufacturers, distributors and retailers for selling pods and devices similar to or compatible with the JUUL device and pods. At least one of those companies, Myle Vape Inc., recently announced it would no longer sell its products in the U.S. Myle makes a pod device that is not JUUL-compatible.

Some of the retailers cited in the new complaint were still selling products named in JUUL’s legal actions as of Nov. 25.

JUUL’s flavor problem

JUUL Goes After More Copycats -- and Flavors

The patent complaint also alleges that some of the respondents sell e-liquid flavors that are intended to specifically attract youth sales. The concern over flavors is featured prominently in JUUL’s public announcement of the legal actions.

“And in contrast to [JUUL Labs’] simple, adult-oriented flavors such as Mango and Virginia Tobacco, many of the Respondents sell cartridges in a variety of flavors having obvious, if not deliberate, youth appeal, such as ‘Pink Frosted Yellow Cakes,’ ‘Berry Lemonade,’ and ‘Green Apple Candy’,” says the JUUL legal complaint.

Of course, while JUUL’s PR department may be clueless, the company’s founders are well aware that simple flavors like lemonade and apple candy were popularized in the early days of e-liquid development, when vapers began experimenting with food (and candy) flavorings. There is nothing particularly “child-appealing” about candy flavors — or fruit, or desserts. Many adult vapers prefer them.

JUUL voluntarily removed its mango, fruit and creme (brulee) flavors from the retail market in response to the FDA’s threats.

JUUL’s last patent complaint made the same assertion, and the company has made similar claims in its response to the FDA’s demand it take steps to stem youth JUUL use. In JUUL’s “action plan,” the company noted that “we do not sell flavors like Gummy Bear or Cotton Candy, which are clearly targeted to kids.”

JUUL voluntarily removed its mango, fruit and creme (brulee) flavors from the retail market in response to the FDA’s threats. There is no reason for the vaping giant to encourage the popular belief that flavored e-liquid is “marketed to kids,” except to further poison the atmosphere in the national vaping debate, and disadvantage their legitimate open-system competitors.

Attacking flavors made by small businesses owned by ex-smokers only serves to make even more enemies for JUUL Labs, a company that shouldn’t be going out of its way to turn friends into foes at this point. Many independent vaping companies would like to see JUUL as an industry leader, but the wealthy vape manufacturer doesn’t seem interested in encouraging the success of any vaping products except its own.

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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1

Lets start a revolution! You can clearly see from this article and the previous one that Juul is a corporation based on Greed and monopoly. They have used vape store retails like toilet paper over the past few year. Since Juul started they survived and thrived from Vape and Smoke shops, once they got big enough they made their C-Store Push. Getting into 7-Eleven, McLane, Etc. and what happened to the Vape store retailers? No supplies, no Inventory, 6 month fulfillment time.

Now, Juul is attacking everyone, as you can see from retailers like: The ZFO, VaporDNA, etc. And beloved manufactures Bo, and Myle (who did nothing wrong!).

Juul does not welcome competition! Juul is nobody’s Friend! Juul is the reason the E-cig market is in turmoil now! You think Juul ever wanted to stop kids from Vaping?? B.S! You can smell the stink from their affiliate marketing last year all over the internet targeting youth and teens.

Juul has filed enough patents to block almost every ecig company from the USA Market!!! (Over 10 Patents) Read them all here: https://patents.justia.com/assignee/juul-labs-inc

Boycott Juul products now!! Stop this money crazy driven company from destroying what e-cig market there is left.

2

It didn’t help that their own reps were coming to our stores pitchiing the product within recent months stating there were now plenty of new third party products now supporting the JUUL platform we could offer our customers. They used it as an additional sales point\pitch. Months later, we’re hit for offering the very same products they suggested we also look into. Great company… the agenda is quite clear.

Jim McDonald
Author3

That’s amazing.

Jim McDonald
Author4

Hey Chris, not to defend JUUL’s supposed anti-competitive practices, but JUUL isn’t “the reason” the market is in turmoil. It’s simply the first really big player in a market that has almost unlimited growth potential. Also, it’s not a corporation, but is privately owned. The company may be acting like jerks, but they have expanded the vaping market greatly, and helped a lot of smokers improve or save their lives.

5

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-06/juul-said-it-would-disrupt-big-tobacco-they-may-join-forces-instead

Yes Jim they sure do help save lives. Look lets look past all the hundreds of thousands of marketing dollars this company spent with you guys in the last year and state the real facts. Juul is a cooperation designed to make money. They don’t give a damn about saving peoples lives. Its all about the Benjamin’s brother.

Jim McDonald
Author6

They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars with US? I wish they’d give me some of it. You really don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.

7

What kills me is the fact that because the flavors are good it’s directed towards youth?! Since when did adults not like flavor? I myself like candy and sweets so I’m not sure why everyone thinks that is directed towards youth! I want something that I like and it’s ridiculous to say the flavors are aimed towards our youth. The media is the cause of the spike in youth vaping, what happens when u tell a kid don’t do that or u shouldn’t do that over abd over again? They go do it because they want to know what’s the big deal! This argument about flavor is so stupid and if people would do research they would actually see vaping in youth is down from 4 yrs ago even though there’s been a recent spike. I just wish research would be done before people make comments! I was a smoker for over 20 years and quit because of vaping. I’m not saying that someone should just go start vaping if they don’t smome but I will say vaping is tons better than smoking any day of the week! Research info people and stop believing everything you hear!

8

Comment deleted

9

Just looked at your store very nice looking and clean! Also really Epic you had the vapingreek at the store very very cool!!!! and good rant lol i enjoyed the read!

10

We’d like to take a brief moment to announce that we’ve been indirectly linked to the manufacturing of aftermarket third-party pods, and we have been issued 60 days from filing to respond. We were made aware of this after attempts by multiple legal teams and advocacy groups to offer services, unfortunately at extreme expense in most cases, to combat the filing. Days later, the papers arrived by FEDEX. Illegitimate organization, firms, and groups we had never heard of knew before we were notified and were pitching us price packages. The vultures were waiting .

The documents were handed off to representatives of local advocacy groups we are currently in league with and legal advisors for review. If instructed after legal consult we will gladly remove all offending product, immediately. We are NOT a manufacturer, we are a retailer purchasing product from US distributors, who I will likely imagine they’ll ask or demand us to name.

We will also no longer offer the remaining JUUL product(s) left to us on the market. We recently received a visit from a local JUUL rep hired to cover our area. They visited our store, gave us posters, neon signs, a nifty display stand, the works. Discounts on products, you name it. They wanted their product in our store, badly. Seems they were more interested in the product that was compatible with their systems, and they were doing a bit of recon. They visited numerous stores in our area this week, so we imagine seeing similar filings like this in the future. Similar retailers we saw listed alongside manufacturers had one thing in common, they had an online presence. An online presence that now competes with JUUL’s sole source of flavored pod income, their online sales portal and subscriptions.

We’ve offered what has been made available to US distributors many of us all use. and we’ve had one single goal. To keep them from combustible tobacco. Again, if this is what is asked of us, so be it. We’ve carried off brand products for JUUL for only a short period of time, our main focus has always been open systems and smoker conversion. We want people to be healthy, even if we’re not even allowed to make the claim it may aide in that endeavor. We’re forced to make many concessions in this industry to try to keep products available to smokers who wish to find a better way, and this may yet again be another. For the time being “offending products” have been removed from sales channels until final deternimarions have been made.

We’ve also recently begun removing various eliquid brands who have refused to repackage or change labeling after releasing updated labels with new warnings, but unchanged art and infringing material. Products such as these hand regulatory agencies the annunition required to take flavors away from adult smokers who so desperately need them in order to remain off combustible tobacco.

We believe we’ll continue to have to make many of these concessions until ultimately they’ve found a way to take flavors from us, which is currently a very real possibly in New York right now due to Cuomo.

Thanks for taking a moment to hear our comments, and after we have some time to consult with our legal advisors and our fellow advocacy group members we will issue a public statement.

Thank you. (And I apologize for the rant, we hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving! You’ll hear from us soon, we’ll post our next response at The ZFO)

Jim McDonald
Author11

Thanks for your comment and explanation. I hope this situation doesn’t affect your business permanently.

12

Great write up Jim. Vape companies need to stick together and unite! The vaping Community has been the most friendly people i have ever met! We all need to stick together and support one another whether its Instagram or Companies or people you know in real life. We are all in this together creating a better world without Cigarettes!

Jim McDonald
Author13

Hard to argue with that!

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