E-Cig Manufacturer’s Patent Lawsuits Rising Fast

Major e-cigarette manufacturers like Reynolds, Fontem, and Altria have a been experience a patent litigation nightmare over the last few years.
The source of this litigation problem?

All the various compent parts in the various e-cigs these companies develop and manufacture. Chicago E-Cig Patent Lawsuits Increasing

The earliest e-cigarette was designed by American Herbert A. Gilbert, who in 1963 patented “a smokeless non-tobacco cigarette” that involved “replacing burning tobacco and paper with heated, moist, flavored air”. After 2 years, the patent was granted in 1965. because smoking was still fashionable and stylish at the time. Gilbert’s invention received little attention and was never commercialized .

Today’s electric cigarettes follow the basic design set forth in Gilbert’s original patent.

Each of the major players in the e-cigarette market—Reynolds, Altria, Fontem, etc. have spent the last few years buried in patent litigation relating to various component parts of their e-cigarettes.

While Fontem and Nu Mark, a subsidiary of Altria, resolved many of their claims (settlement) earlier this year, Reynolds and Fontem remain steeped in litigation over several of their e-cigarette patents under 35 U.S.C. § 341(a).

smaller, startup companies in Chicago have had fears of these litigation nightmares. Just one case could bankrupt a small company if they ever get sued for patent infringement which some fear will slow the economic growth of the vape industry in the “Windy City.”

Information Resources Inc., a Chicago-based market research firm, reported total sales of all electronic tobacco devices—e-cigarettes and vapors/tanks/mods—in U.S. convenience stores totaled more than $71.8 million for the four weeks ending March 19 Representing a 27.06% increase for the same time period during the previous year. Unit sales jumped more than 21% for the four weeks. No doubt this is contributing greatly to Chicago’s local economy and with recent patent litigation problems this growth could slow in coming months.

Patent agents and lawyers are busier than ever as well with the increase in patent lawsuits.

The Tracy Jong Law Firm specializes in patent, trademark infringement, and copyright law. Recently patent cases have been piling up more than anything else.

Cheng-Ning Jong, a patent agent who works for Tracy Jong Law Firm, spoke briefly on the new flurry of patent lawsuits coming out of Chicago due to e-cigs:

“Patent law can get messy when it comes to e-cigs. There are so many parts that make up an e-cigarette major companies often find themselves fighting with each other over who is the original manufacturer of specific designs. These are far too often complicated cases that can take months and even years to resolve.”

So what does the future hold for the e-cig industry in Chicago? Nobody can see the future and justice is blind.

New York And Chicago: A Marriage Made In Smoking And Vaping Laws

Laws in New York and Chicago make electronic cigarettes subject to the same regulations as tobacco.  The similarities in laws in both of these well-known cities has created a type of microcosm for an issue that has been stirring since the first “ecig” came out.Illinois and New York Show Similarities in Laws On Vaping

Long time upstate New York resident and proprietor of Hempire State Smoke Shop located in the city of Rochester, Tony Vella speaks on his time spent in the windy city compared to growing up in Rochester and how he has seen similarities in the electronic cigarette movement.

“New York and Illinois have always had similar stances on smoking laws.  I almost opened up a smoke shop in Chicago but decided to take my chances (in New York).”

Dr Thomas Farley, the New York City health commissioner under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, says allowing electronic cigarettes in bars and restaurants would undermine existing bans on tobacco-based products.

“Imagine for a moment you’re at a bar and there are 20 people who are puffing on something that looks like a cigarette and then somebody smells something that smells like tobacco smoke,” Farley says. “How’s the bartender going to know who to tap on the shoulder and say, ‘Put that out’?”

Makers of the devices say marketing them as e-cigarettes has confused lawmakers into thinking they are the same as tobacco-based cigarettes. They say the bans “ostracize people who want an alternative to tobacco products and will be especially hard on ex-smokers who are being lumped into the same smoking areas as tobacco users.”

The biggest problem that New York and Illinois seem to face now is that there is so little evidence on the effect of vaping devices as far as the effect it has on smoking.  In other words,  it has been widely undecided on whether these devices serve as an aid in quitting, a gateway for non-smokers or a bridge to keep smokers hooked longer.

Governor Signs Bill To Decriminalize Marijuana In Chicago

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation making possession of marijuana in small amounts punishable by fines but not jail time. Marijuana possession in small amounts in Illinois will be punishable by fines but not jail time after Gov. Brucemarijuana now decriminilized in Chicago Rauner signed legislation that makes the state the third largest to decriminalize minor pot offenses.

The new law, which takes effect immediately, makes having 10 grams or less of marijuana will be a civil offense, punishable with a fine of up to $200. The Republican governor had been expected to sign the bill because it included language he requested after vetoing similar legislation last year. In his message to lawmakers at the time, Rauner said that existing penalties for petty marijuana offenses were too severe and that “criminal prosecution of cannabis possession is also a drain on public resources.”

The new law also sets a standard for what’s considered too impaired to drive. Currently, any trace of marijuana is enough to be considered impaired, but marijuana advocates have long criticized zero-tolerance states’ approach because marijuana can stay in a person’s system for several weeks. The new law makes the standard 5 nanograms of THC, marijuana’s intoxicating chemical, in a driver’s blood within two hours of consumption.

With Rauner’s signature, Illinois joins 16 other states, including New York and California, that have decriminalized marijuana possession in small amounts.

Police chiefs and sheriffs have expressed hesitations verbally:

“You’re giving individuals more opportunities for drug usage,” said Laimutis Nargelenas, a former lobbyist for the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the current police chief for the Springfield Park District.

He said authorities are in progress on developing paperwork for traffic infractions to monitor how many people are driving high across the state because of the law change.

“Fundamentally, this is about how we utilize our limited law enforcement resources,” said Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Chicago Democrat.

“We’re treating people really differently across the state, and we should be really getting out of that,” said Chicago Democratic Sen. Heather Steans, another bill sponsor.

The bill Rauner vetoed last year set guidelines that were less strict than the new law. Lawmakers wanted possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana to be a civil offense punishable with a fine between $55 and $125. Lawmakers also initially proposed that the standard for a marijuana DUI be 15 nanograms

FDA Continues Crack Down on Vaping Industry in Chicago

When it comes to the vaping consumer market, it is a largely unregulated industry; This is something the FDA has a problem with. Compounded with the $15+ city tax on e-cigarettes this year, Chicago’s lawmakers are cracking down on vaping in the windy city.

So just what is the FDA trying to push? New rules and regulations that will require all ecigarettes to pass FDA approval before they can be put out on the store shelves.

This puts a heavy burder on the manufactures of ecigs. They are looking at an additional $1 million dollars in cost to seek this approval from the FDA.

taxes on vaping in chicago

A lot believe that this is big tobacco’s doing. Vaping is considered an “arch nemesis” of the tobacco industry because it turns so many traditional tobacco users into EX-users. Further concerns by the FDA include the flavoring of the ejuices themselves. Without proper FDA regulations, people may just be breathing in toxins that can harm them. Also, a lot of the flavors seem to appeal to children and the FDA worries this will attract minors to something intended for adult use only.

AVA President Gregory Conley has made the statement in the past that the FDA’s move “resembles prohibition.”

The burden the FDA is putting on vape businesses all throughout chicago is driving them to pack up and flat out quit. “The taxes are forcing small businesses out — I can’t work for peanuts,” one local Chicago vape store owner has said.

If things continue in this direction then the vaping industry in Chicago will surely be up in smoke.

Big Changes With Chicago Smoking Laws

The “bad news” Big Tobacco received when Chicago raised its smoking age to 21, outlawed discounts, issued a $6 million tax on cigars, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco and banned chaw altogether at sports vaping in chicagostadiums is starting to take effect with mixed results.  Some people love it while other’s (primarily those who utilize vaporizers) hate it.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel strengthened a sweeping anti-smoking agenda that has brought down the teen smoking rate down to 10.7 percent. The mayor is now aiming for what he called the “attainable goal” of creating a “tobacco-free generation.”

The mayor re-ignited a plan that raises Chicago’s smoking age from 18 to 21, taxes tobacco products other than cigarettes and prohibits coupons and discounts used to lure another generation of smokers to take up the habit in the first place.

In the Mayor’s own words back in March:

“Chicago has one of the lowest teen smoking rates — not only in history, but in the country. This is an important step.”

Critics contend that taxing tobacco products yet again when Chicago already has the nation’s highest cigarette tax at $7.17-a-pack will drive up the black-market sale of loose cigarettes that breed more serious crime and drive small retailers out of business, particularly those located near the city limits.

The City Council agreed to make Chicago the nation’s fourth big league city to ban smokeless tobacco at baseball stadiums and other “professional and amateur” sporting events.

San Francisco, Boston and Los Angeles have passed similar bans that take effect this season while New York and Toronto have legislation pending.

The Chicago ban is a big victory for the so-called “Knock Tobacco Out of the Park” campaign sweeping the nation.