The Juul brand pod vape continues to make headlines in major vaping industry news. Juul Labs Inc. retains well over half the market share of US vape sales, despite consistent media controversy and increased localized scrutiny around the US. Juul executives must be familiar with Spiderman, acting on Uncle Ben’s famous words: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
New Juul devices will be released in quarter four this year across Israel and parts of Western Europe to test and implement advanced features to assist users in their quests to quit smoking. Reported features include dose control, flavor strength, and other measures to help determine the user is of legal age. Bluetooth functionality is also rumored, potentially including geo-fences that will shut devices off in certain areas – like schools.
Bloomberg reports that Juul Labs’ Chief Administration Officer, Ashley Gould, acknowledges “kids are using the products…we’re committed to stopping it.” CEO Kevin Burns specified, “We’re not a lifestyle brand…We don’t want the product to seem cool.” Juul Labs’ executives may be committed to guiding their product further into the right hands – adult smokers who seek a quitting aid – but, new devices will still not hit US markets without FDA approval.
The Agriculture Appropriations Bill of 2017 updated the predicate date for existing vape products on the market. Any product seeking to hit market post-2016 is required to submit applications through the FDA. Currently, the FDA has received hundreds of new applications, and approved only eight.
Juul currently holds 55 registered flavors with the FDA not released for purchase. The unreleased flavors were on application prior to the 2016 predicate cut off. Bloomberg’s Alice Hines writes that Juul withheld release due to media and political controversy surrounding e-cig flavors and youth marketing, according to a “person familiar with the matter.”
The vape market leader also has a new application on file with the US Patent Office. Juul is reportedly considering data mining vape users to offer deals and suggest flavors. The patent includes concepts for multiplayer games controlled by inhalation or movement. Juul dismissed the ideas as “written broadly only to protect its intellectual property,” according to Hines.
Hopefully Juul Labs stays the course with features for aiding users in quitting smoking. Bio-metric and habit-tracking features, if implemented, would be welcome advancements in how vapers use and manage our devices daily. Multiplayer games and Easter eggs like party mode seem to belie the company’s statements, so let’s hope those broadly written patent ideas stay unrefined.