In May 2020, British American Tobacco (BAT) sued PMI in the United States and Germany, alleging that the tobacco heating technology used in PMI’s HnB device IQOS, had infringed its patents.
All the lawsuits, including the ones in Germany, were based on the accusation that the heating blade technology used in IQOS, is an earlier version of the technology currently being used in BAT’s Glo tobacco heating devices. BAT had planned to launch its Glo range in Germany this year, and PMI started selling IQOS in the US in 2019, with the latter being the only HnB device approved for sale in the country.
“If we win we may be able to get an ITC exclusion order blocking the importation of IQOS into the U.S. by Philip Morris unless they agree to take a license to our patents,” said BAT spokesman Will Hill at the time.
The ban to take effect in two months’ time
Finally last week, the ITC ruled in favour of BAT, saying that Philip Morris International and Altria must stop the sale and import of the IQOS device. The import and sales ban will take effect in two months’ time, after an administrative review that requires President Joe Biden’s signature.
Naturally PMI said it plans to appeal the trade agency’s decision, and an Altria spokesperson said the two companies are working together on contingency plans. “We continue to believe RJR’s patents are invalid and that IQOS does not infringe those patents,” an Altria spokesperson said in a statement to CNBC.
Read Further: CNBC