We’ve already watched as British American Tobacco entered the e-cig industry with their line of vaping gear called Vype. Now Imperial Tobacco is also getting in on the action by acquiring their own e-cig brand. It seems the Imperial isn’t buying just any old brand either. They are going for the original first e-cig patent by purchasing the e-cig portion of Dragonite.
In short announcement in a UK newspaper, we found the announcement that Imperial is in the process of acquiring Dragonite’s e-cigarette division. Once they receive approval from Dragonite shareholders, Imperial will officially move forward with plans to launch its first e-cigarette in 2014.
The interesting part of this story is the history involved. The co-founder of Dragonite was Hon Lik. If you know much about e-cigs, you probably already know that Hon Lik invented e-cigarette technology. According to the UK newspaper, Imperial didn’t just buy this original e-cig, but also the accompanying patents on e-cig technology. Along with acquiring the patents, Imperial will also acquire the right to receive proceeds from any legal claims involving these patents.
That means that if any e-cig company has violated the original patent, they could face legal action from Imperial. In the past, Dragonite has legally pursued these ten e-cig companies for patent infringement:
- Mistic E-Cigarette by Barjan LLC
- 21st Centure Smokes by CB Distributors
- FIN E-Cigarettes by Finiti Branding Group
- Blu Cig by LOEC, Inc. (Lorillard)
- Metro E-Cigarettes by Nicotek Development Co.
- Logic E-Cigs by Logic Technology Development Co.
- The Safe Cig by The Safe Cig LLC
- NJOY E-Cigarettes by Sottera Inc.
- CIG20 E-Cigs by Spark Industries LLC
- Fifty-One, Krave, VaporX, Green Puffer, and others by Vapor Corp.
Even though Dragonite isn’t a big player in the current e-cigarette sales market, their patent is a big deal in the e-cig industry. There have already been multiple lawsuits and one well-known settlement where Blu Cigs paid an unknown amount to Dragonite before the Lorillard deal.
So now Imperial will have the right to decide when to pursue legal action over patent infringement. Regardless of what the company does with the patent, the market is ripe for another e-cigarette brand. The UK already has an estimated 1.3 million e-cig users and the number is growing each month. By adding another big name tobacco company to the e-cig market, it just expands the reach of vaping products even further.
Do you think Imperial’s decision to ac quire the e-cig patent is a game changer? How will this impact the UK e-cigarette market in the future?