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E-Cig Maker Wins Injunction Against Counterfeiters

Juul Labs files lawsuit alleging unlawful use of its trademark

SAN FRANCISCO – In the war on counterfeit vaping devices, Juul Labs scored a victory in a federal court, which granted a temporary restraining order and a freeze on PayPal accounts this month of entities tied to the selling of unauthorized Juul products, according to TechCrunch.

Juul originally filed federal trademark claims Aug. 24 in the Eastern District of Virginia court against 30 entities in China for selling counterfeit Juul products on eBay.

“The prevalence of counterfeiters has increased dramatically over the last year, consistent with Juul’s rise in the marketplace,” Gerald Masoudi, chief legal officer for San Francisco-based Juul Labs, told TechCrunch. “The process of tracking and identifying the culprits of counterfeit products is time-intensive. We have dedicated additional resources to this initiative to ensure these products stay off the market and out of hands of underage users.”

The August court filing names the defendant companies in a sealed exhibit, but said identifying specific individuals is difficult because they “have gone to great lengths to conceal their identities and often use multiple fictitious names, business names and addresses to register and operate their network of … internet stores.”

The document said that despite Juul’s good-faith attempts to identify defendants, it is unable to reliably determine any of their identities.

In their filing, Juul officials said the counterfeit products do not adhere to quality control standards that the company disclosed to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in deference to the agency’s regulatory requirements.

The defendants also allegedly operate with disregard to the age of consumers. “Equally concerning is defendants’ reckless disregard for age restrictions placed on tobacco products,” the court document said. “Whereas Juul sells through retail outlets that require age verification and Juul uses industry-leading age verification to restrict access to it products from Juul’s online store, these defendants don’t use age-verification systems and in some cases might be targeting underage users. Indeed, defendants allow anyone, including those under the legal age, to purchase their counterfeit products.”

Earlier this year, the FDA took steps to address mounting concerns about minors using e-cigarettes. This effort included reaching out to manufacturers and doing undercover audits of retailers. Juul responded to the FDA with promises to comply with the proper age-verification practices and other complementary measures.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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