The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) should have consulted more with the Food and Drug Administration before banning IQOS imports, lawyers for Philip Morris International argued before an appeals court panel on Oct. 3, according to Reuters.
In September 2021, the ITC upheld an initial determination from May 2021 that PMI’s IQOS device infringes on two patents owned by BAT subsidiary Reynolds American Inc. (RAI). The agency then instituted an import ban and a cease-and-desist order preventing IQOS consumables and devices from being sold in the U.S.
PMI has challenged the import ban in court, arguing among other things that the ban deprives American smokers of nicotine products that are less unhealthy than cigarettes.
The case is part of a global patent dispute between RAI’s parent company BAT and tobacco giant Altria Group, which separated from PMI in 2008 and is the exclusive distributor of IQOS in the United States.
A North Carolina jury awarded Altria $95 million last month on claims that RAI’s Vuse e-cigarettes infringed its patents. In a separate case over RAI’s Vuse line, PMI won more than $10 million from a Virginia jury.
RAI sued Philip Morris at the ITC in 2020. Its related patent case against PMI in Virginia is on hold.
In July 2020, the FDA granted IQOS modified-risk orders, allowing Altria and PMI to tell consumers that the product generates lower levels of harmful chemicals than traditional cigarettes, among other claims.