ITC Probes Altria Following R.J. Reynolds Complaint


Jimmy Hafrey


Complaint Prompted International Investigation Into The Two Tobacco Giants

Unfortunately, the global vaping industry is under constant attack from big-tobacco titans, as they take massive market shares via aggressive marketing campaigns and hostile takeovers of smaller companies. Thankfully rather than continue on a sustained campaign to dismantle what was primarily a grassroots industry, these industry giants are starting to set their sights on each other.

The United States International Trade Commission has announced they will be launching an investigation into Altria and Philip Morris International. The probe comes following a previous complaint filed by competitor R.J. Reynolds months prior.

The complaint and subsequent investigation are the results of a patent dispute between the two nicotine behemoths. R.J. Reynolds alleges that certain elements used in Altria/PMI’s IQOS devices infringe on patents held for their own Glo vaporizer.

R.J. Reynolds is seeking a cease-and-desist against their competitor in an attempt to halt sales of the infringing product. The injunction would bar the import and sale of the product within the United States and would help establish a case and precedent for additional trials in international markets.

Cease And Desist

In what has been dubbed the opening shots fired in the great vape wars by tobacco titans, R.J. Reynolds is seeking an injunction against competing behemoth Altria over an alleged patent dispute. Analysts have speculated the action may be the result of larger cross-licensing negotiations between the two giants.

In the dispute, R.J. Reynolds is accusing Altria’s IQOS heat-not-burn device of infringing on patents used in their Glo vaporizer. Specifically, the complaint alleges that the IQOS device infringes on at least five copyrights pertaining to certain tobacco heating elements and other components used in the Glo vaporizer.

If awarded, the limited exclusion and cease-and-desist orders would bar Altria from importing and selling the product within the United States. In response to the allegations, the company has stated that the claims hold no merit, and the company is fully prepared and positioned to defend itself.

R.J. Reynolds is a subsidiary of British American Tobacco, which had recently filed its own lawsuit against Altria and Philip Morris International. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Virginia, is similar in nature, although BAT is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctive relief in addition to treble damages.

Vaping Facts

Every year, the smoking epidemic is responsible for the deaths and illnesses of millions of people throughout the world. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, there are currently an estimated 38 million smokers in the United States alone, of which over 16 million live with some form of smoking-related illness or disease.

Vaping continues to prove itself as the greatest tool we have at our disposal in combating the deadly worldwide smoking epidemic. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that vaping was more effective than traditional nicotine-replacement therapies in helping people both quit smoking and remain tobacco-free.

Vaping is already responsible for saving thousands, and potentially millions, of lives throughout the world each year. According to a study from University College London, researchers found that vaping was responsible for helping up to 70,000 British smokers quit in a single year alone.

Not only has vaping been proven as an effective cessation aid, but it has also been demonstrated as a safer, reduced harm alternative to tobacco as well. Landmark research carried out by the UK Royal College of Physicians found that vaping is staggeringly 95% safer than smoking. Public Health England, the country’s top health agency, has routinely touted and defended this fact and advocates vaping as an effective form of smoking cessation.

There has also been no evidence of long-term risk to users of vapor products. According to a study published by the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that not only is vaping less harmful than smoking, but there are no known long-term health effects associated with prolonged usage as well.


These legal disputes represent some of the last dying breaths of former tobacco titans. Rather than focus on innovation, these antiquated nicotine behemoths opt to focus on litigation instead.

It remains uncertain whether British American Tobacco, through R.J. Reynolds, will be successful in court. The U.S. International Trade Commission issued a statement saying that it has not made any decision on the merits of the case at this time and that the investigation is ongoing.

What are your thoughts regarding the International Trade Commission’s investigation into Altria? Do you believe R.J. Reynolds’ complaint has merit? Let us know what you think in the comments below, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!

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