RJ Reynolds Ordered to Pay Altria $95 Million in Patent Dispute

RJ Reynolds Ordered to Pay Altria $95 Million in Patent Dispute
RJR ordered to pay Altria over $95 million for patent infringement on Vuse e-cigarette.

In this illustration, a woman is holding a cigarette in front of the Altria logo. Source: Reuters/Dado Ruvic.

On Wednesday, a jury in North Carolina ruled that RJ Reynolds Vapor Co must pay over $95 million to tobacco giant Altria Group after finding that RJR's best-selling Vuse series of e-cigarettes infringed on three of Altria's patents.

Altria, headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, has accused its competitor RJR of infringing on patents related to e-cigarette devices used for storing and heating liquid nicotine pods. Altria is seeking over 5% in royalties on sales of RJR's Vuse Alto device.

Altria announced in a press release that a Greensboro, North Carolina jury accepted its proposed royalty rates when calculating $95.2 million in past damages awarded, and that RJR may be subject to additional ongoing damages following the expiration of its patents in 2035 after post-trial proceedings.

A copy of the verdict cannot be obtained immediately.

A spokesperson for RJR, based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, expressed disappointment with the ruling and stated that the company will vigorously defend outstanding issues in court and appeal if necessary.

Murphy Gagné, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Altria, stated that the company is "pleased that the jury recognized the importance of Altria's innovation and the value of its patents.

On Wednesday, a verdict was reached in a case where Philip Morris International won a $10 million judgement in June in Virginia. The company accused RJR of infringing on two e-cigarette patents with their Vuse Solo and Alto devices.

RJR has filed a lawsuit against Philip Morris and Altria in Virginia, alleging that Philip Morris' IQOS heated tobacco device infringes on its e-cigarette patents. Last November, RJR won an order to block the importation of IQOS from the International Trade Commission.


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