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Tobacco company subsidiary sues 11 electronic cigarette makers for patent infringement

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Mar 13, 2014


LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) -- A Netherlands-based company is suing 11 electronic cigarette makers in a California federal court, claiming patent infringement.

Fontem Ventures BV, a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco Group PLC, filed nine separate lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California March 5.

Fontem, which is headquartered in Amsterdam, develops non-tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes.

Electronic cigarettes -- also referred to as electronic vaping devices; personal vaporizers, or PVs; digital vapor devices; or electronic nicotine delivery systems, or ENDS -- are battery-powered devices that simulate tobacco smoking.

The device uses a heating element that vaporizes a liquid solution, which contains a mixture of nicotine and flavorings.

The named defendants in the lawsuits include: NJOY Inc., LOEC Inc., CB Distributors Inc., Vapor Corp., FIN Branding Group LLC, Ballantyne Brands LLC, Spark Industries LLC, Logic Technology Development LLC, VMR Products LLC, DR Distributors LLC and Victory Electronic Cigarettes Corp.

Fontem, in its complaints, allege that the companies have infringed its intellectual property.

Click here to read one of the complaints.

"Defendant's continuing infringement has inflicted and, unless restrained by this court, will continue to inflict great and irreparable harm upon the Plaintiffs," Fontem wrote in its complaints, noting it obtained patents for its technology in 2013.

The company wants the federal court to rule its patents were valid and force the defendants to pay damages. An amount was not specified in the complaints.

Fontem could not immediately be reached for comment on the lawsuit.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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