Why is Juul Suing Over This Cartoon Monster?

Juul Monster logoJuul Labs, maker of the world’s most popular e-cigarette, is suing four more companies for trademark infringement. The suit alleges that four New Jersey-based companies – one of them called Juul Monster – infringed on Juul’s trademarks. One aspect of the lawsuit revolves around the company’s use of a cartoon logo known as the Juul Monster.

Juul initiated the lawsuit on Thursday against Juul Monster and three other companies: K&R Products, Status Distribution, and Status Vapes, as well as individual people associated with the companies. Juul is claiming that the companies used the names “Juul Monster”, “Juul MegaStore”, and the cartoon monster logo to promote their products, including but not limited to Juul-branded merchandise.

The Juul Monster logo features a giant green monster puffing away on the company’s namesake devices. In the official complaint, Juul claims that the logo is bad for their reputation because it could appeal to children. From the complaint: “The monster’s small stature and impish expression also suggests that the character is himself a rebellious child or teen that enjoys using the product.” Even worse, the pods that are marketed under the Juul Monster brand feature kid-friendly flavors like “berry lemonade” and “green apple hard candy”.

Juul has been under intense criticism for their past marketing campaigns that many people claim were designed to appeal to underage vapers. In response, the company ended their affiliate program, closed down US-based social media accounts, and even launched a TV ad campaign allegedly targeted towards adult smokers.

Which leads us to another problem with the Juul Monster logo: it’s all over social media. “The use of social media is also aimed at younger consumers,” the lawsuit says, “in contrast, [Juul] voluntarily shut down its social media accounts as part of its continued efforts to prevent any appearance of promotion of its products to an underage audience.”

The individual people named in the suit include Ryan Doka, Craig Doka, and James Doka. The complain also claims that the defendants were “cybersquatting” by buying Juul-related domains. Juul alleges that Juul Monster products were sold on juulmonster.com and juulmegastore.com.

Juul has been cracking down on companies that are infringing on its trademark in an ongoing campaign to regain control of its image. The knockoffs and counterfeits are not under Juul’s control, but could reflect badly on the company if they are marketed to children. They also cut into the companies bottom line (not that they appear to be struggling for cash these days).

“These products could undermine public health and the efforts of all of us who are trying to keep nicotine delivery systems out of the hands of young people,” Juul stated in a blog post.

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