Juul Battles Newest Chinese Copycat Vapes

Juul has asked regulators to step in and stop 18 companies from selling products that allegedly infringe on Juul’s patents, CNBC reports.

Last Wednesday, the e-cigarette giant filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission (ITC). Juul Labs claims Chinese copycats “blatantly emulated the distinctive design” of their pod vape system. They want to stop the import of knock off vapes to the US for distribution, marketing, and sale.

This is the latest effort by Juul Labs to stop imitators from introducing products to the market. Back in August, Juul filed trademark lawsuits against a remarkable 30 Chinese companies. Companies sold the knock offs on global reseller site, eBay.

Juul currently dominates the US e-cigarette market. Just one year after spinning off their parent company, Pax Labs, Juul raised $1.2 billion in funding, according to Bloomberg. Currently, Juul boasts over $15 billion in value. In Q3 this year, Juul held 68% of the e-cigarette market share. The product originally launched through Pax Labs in 2015.

CEO Kevin Burns claimed their actions are protective and preventive in measure. “Protecting consumers and preventing underage use are critical priorities, and we will take decisive action where available to restrict illegal copycat products that undermine our efforts,” Burns said in a statement.

Juul product photo
Juul’s sleek, slim design is a global patent. They claim a number of Chinese companies have copied the design.

Yet, their intentions are not without question. The FDA seized over 1,000 documents from Juul HQ in San Francisco at the end of September. The agency seeks to uncover if Juul’s marketing and advertising practices are getting teens hooked on their product. Scott Gottlieb, FDA Commissioner, ordered Juul and four other major e-cigarette companies to submit their youth control plans within just 60 days in a recent statement.

Juul’s pods contain 59 milligrams of nicotine per milliliter, the highest on the market. One Juulpod contains the same amount of nicotine as a full pack of cigarettes. Countries in Europe and the Middle East have banned the Juul for their high nicotine content.

The European Union and United Kingdom have strict requirements for e-cigarette nicotine content – no more than 20mg/mL. After some months on the market, Israeli officials recently banned the Juul, saying the device “posed serious danger to public health.” Juul is now suing the Israeli government over the decision. They call the decision a ‘double standard.’

The ban “prevented many smokers from a much less damaging alternative which does not involve inhaling cancerous tobacco smoke, while at the same time cigarettes continue to be sold unhindered and different types of cigarettes continue to enter the Israeli market,” Juul argued in a statement.

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