Juul Labs today filed a complaint with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) claiming that several organizations are infringing on Juul Labs’ patents. Juul has asked the ITC to halt the importation, distribution and sale of these products in the U.S.
In all, eighteen entities are listed within the complaint as having infringed Juul patents. They predominantly hail from within the U.S. and China, with one based in France, according to the complaint.
Earlier this year, Juul Labs filed for trademark infringement against 30 different companies which were allegedly using the Juul design or name brand.
Obviously, competition is one reason to take legal action, but Juul has other priorities. The company is under an immense amount of scrutiny by the FDA and lawmakers with regards to underage usage of the product. Counterfeit products are often sold without any age verification, putting electronic nicotine delivery systems in the hands of yet more minors.
From the release:
Whereas Juul Labs implements strict manufacturing and quality controls during the manufacturing of its products, little is known about how most of the accused devices are manufactured. Similarly, whereas Juul Labs applies strict age-gating when selling its products through its website, many of the accused products appear to be sold with little or no real age-verification processes. Notably, in contrast to Juul’s products, many of the accused copy-cat products include inappropriate flavors, seemingly directed to attract underage users – flavors like “Bubble Bubble,” “Apple Juice” and “Sour Gummy.”
In mid-September, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced that Juul and other vape makers would have 60 days to come up with a more robust, comprehensive plan to combat underage use of the products. That 60-day period is about half-way complete.
It’s unclear what the consequences will be for a plan that doesn’t meet the FDA’s satisfaction, but there has been plenty of talk about banning flavored liquids, which would be a severe blow to Juul and other e-cig companies.