Panel Rules IQOS Infringes on 2 R.J. Reynolds Patents

Altria Group confident trademark ruling will be reversed
Philip Morris IQOS
Photograph courtesy of Altria Group

WASHINGTON — Altria Group Distributing Co. and Philip Morris International (PMI) may have to remove the IQOS heated tobacco devices from U.S. store shelves if a ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is upheld.

The Washington, D.C.-based commission ruled Sept. 29 that IQOS infringes on two patents held by rival R.J. Reynolds, a subsidiary of British American Tobacco.

Altria Group said in a statement that it is “disappointed with the ITC’s decision to impose an exclusion order that prohibits the importation of IQOS and to issue a cease-and-desist order.” However, it believes the decision will be reversed.

“We continue to believe RJR’s patents are invalid and that IQOS does not infringe those patents,” George Parman, director of communications for Altria Group Distributing Co., Richmond, Va., told CSP Daily News. “This case will now move to administrative review, which is expected to last for 60 days. We expect to continue marketing and selling IQOS in its current geographies throughout the administrative review period. We’re working with PMI on contingency plans.”

For its part, R.J. Reynolds, Winston-Salem, N.C., said it intends to see the review through and expects the ruling to stand. “Infringement of our intellectual property undermines our ability to invest and innovate and thereby reduce the health impact of our business,” it said in a statement. “We will therefore defend our IP robustly across the globe.”

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