January 16, 2011 - Hong Kong-listed patent owner Dragonite International is hoping to secure its hold on the estimated US$500 million global market for electronic cigarettes by suing potential infringers in the United States. Dragonite International, formerly Ruyan Group (Holdings), intends to take legal action against all the major e-cigarette manufacturers and distributors in the US. (August 9, 2010 - Ruyan Group Limited now called Dragonite International Limited"..)
The company has won a number of patent infringement cases on the mainland (China), but a victory in US courts for Dragonite International would probably bolster its claim on the burgeoning e-cigarette market. The smokeless e-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that vaporise a liquid nicotine solution. They work by emitting a puff, or fine mist, of nicotine, which is inhaled by the user. They are mostly made on the mainland (China).
Legal action by Dragonite, which is expected to begin in Los Angeles tomorrow, January 13th would probably serve as a litmus test for the protection of patents based on Chinese innovations.
"The lack of protection of intellectual property rights in China has permitted a deluge of illicit and poorly manufactured Chinese-made e-cigarettes to export markets," Dragonite International executive director Angela Ching said.
"The confusion [over] the safety of these products has delayed the development of this otherwise breakthrough [one], which holds the potential to reduce global smoking-related health costs by hundreds of billions of US dollars."
Even if Dragonite wins the suit and stops copyright-infringing rivals from doing business, it wouldn't be able to bring its product to the US market without approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has classified e-cigarettes not as regular cigarettes and other tobacco products, but as unapproved smoke-cessation "drug delivery devices".
In this same press note, the company said that its patent application for the electronic atomization cigarette (commonly known as the electronic cigarette or e-cigarette) had been granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO patent application number 10/587,707). The patent covers the company's core invention: all key components and the functionality of the electronic cigarette in respect of the battery, vaporization mechanism, activation switch, and flavor cartridge. Dragonite's core invention patent has already been granted in countries including all EU states, Russia and the former Soviet republics, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, India, Mexico, Singapore, and Israel.
Philip Morris - Ruyan Group - November 25. 2009 - More: Philip Morris - Ruyan Group - e-cigarettes..
Reference: Patent owner to sue in US over e-cigarette rights, Dennis Eng, LexisNexis (Complimentary News for Corporate Professionals), 1/12/2011.