Zippo Sues Lorillard's blu E-Cigarette Subsidiary

Claims infringement of "BLU" lighter trademark

Zippo blu lighter vs. Lorillard blue e-cigarette (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores / Tobacco)

BRADFORD, Pa. -- Zippo Manufacturing Co., maker of the Zippo cigarette lighter, and its subsidiary ZippMark Inc., have sued LOEC Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Lorillard, for trademark infringement in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The lawsuit seeks to prevent LOEC from selling its electronic cigarettes under the brand name "blu" in light of Zippo's ownership of the trademark BLU for its line of blue-flame butane lighters.

"Despite our attempts to resolve this matter amicably, Zippo has been compelled to seek the court's assistance to protect our BLU trademarks," said Zippo president and CEO Gregory Booth. "Zippo is instantly recognizable because we have long understood the value of our brand and the need to vigorously protect it against use by others. Our BLU trademarks are similarly valuable and will be similarly protected."

Zippo's trademark infringement claim came in response to LOEC seeking a declaratory judgment of noninfringement concerning the e-cigarette brand.

Lorillard acquired Charlotte, N.C.-based e-cigarette maker blu in 2012. Through its Lorillard Tobacco Co. subsidiary, Greensboro, N.C.-based Lorillard Inc. is the third largest manufacturer of cigarettes in the United States. Newport, Lorillard's flagship menthol-flavored premium cigarette brand, is the top-selling menthol and second largest selling cigarette in the United States. In addition to Newport, the Lorillard product line has four additional brand families marketed under the Kent, True, Maverick and Old Gold brand names. These five brands include 43 different product offerings which vary in price, taste, flavor, length and packaging.

Bradford, Pa.-based Zippo also owns the Ronson brand of lighters and fuel and W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co.