Jury Awards PMI $10.7 Million in Patent Case

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    A U.S. jury awarded Philip Morris International $10.7 million on June 15 after finding that R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co.’s Vuse e-cigarettes violate its patent rights, reports Reuters.

    The federal court jury in Alexandria, Virginia, said RJR’s Vuse Solo and Alto devices infringe two PMI patents covering parts of a vaping device for heating substances and preventing leaks. At the same time, the jury cleared Vuse Alto of infringing one of the patents.

    A Philip Morris spokesperson told Reuters the company was “grateful” for the verdict, which “rejects an attempt by BAT to free-ride on our hard work and investment.”

    A spokesman for RJR indicated it may appeal the June 14 verdict.

    The case is part of a multi-front patent dispute between PMI and RJR parent company British American Tobacco.

    The recent verdict concerned counterclaims in RJR’s ongoing patent lawsuit over PMI’s IQOS heated-tobacco device. RJR won an order blocking IQOS imports at the U.S. International Trade Commission last November.

    PMI succeeded earlier this year in invalidating parts of some patents RJR accused it of infringing at a U.S. Patent Office tribunal.

    BAT has also sued PMI over IQOS in the United Kingdom, Germany and elsewhere. A PMI filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year said IQOS patent lawsuits and challenges outside of the U.S. have “repeatedly and universally failed.”

    Altria has separately sued RJR for patent infringement in North Carolina over the Vuse line, in another case that is still pending.