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Category — Legal Issues & Updates

The Vapor IP Wars: Beyond Patents

While patent litigation in the e-cigarette industry has garnered significant attention, the growing number of companies and brands competing in this market raises a host of issues with other types of intellectual property—issues that have already swept across industries that similarly involve a reusable base product and high-margin refill supplies, such as coffee machines and pods, razors and blades, and printers and ink cartridges.  [Read more →]

September 9, 2014   Comments Off

Lawsuit Challenges USDA’s Failure to Collect Tobacco Buy-Out Assessments from Tribal Manufacturers

On August 14, 2014, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (“RJR”) and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, Inc. (“Santa Fe”) sued the United States Department of Agriculture (the “USDA”), among others, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.  In their two-count complaint, RJR and Santa Fe allege violations of the Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act (the “FETRA”) and the Administrative Procedure Act (the “APA”). [Read more →]

August 21, 2014   Comments Off

Big Win for Small Tobacco in Texas

In 2013, the Texas legislature introduced and approved House Bill 3525, which imposed a 55-cent-per-pack fee on cigarettes manufactured by companies that did not participate in the Texas tobacco Settlement Agreement.  The Texas Small Tobacco Coalition and Global Tobacco, Inc. filed a lawsuit challenging the fee against the Texas Attorney General and Comptroller.  [Read more →]

August 20, 2014   Comments Off

E-Cigarette Patent Litigation Continues

The saga of plaintiff Timothy Sheridan, named inventor of U.S. Patent No. 7,415,982 for a “Smokeless Pipe,” continues.  In the latest chapter, Sheridan filed a pro se complaint for patent infringement against the United States government in the Court of Federal Claims on August 4, 2014, alleging that the government somehow prevented Sheridan from enforcing the ‘982 patent.  Underlying that allegation is Sheridan’s contention that all currently marketed e-cigarettes and vaporizers infringe the ‘982 patent. [Read more →]

August 18, 2014   Comments Off

Altria Argues Against Applicability of Modified Risk Descriptor Ban to Cigars

The Food and Drug Administration’s (“FDA”) proposed deeming regulations raise concerns for cigar manufacturers with product labels that include descriptors such as “light,” “mild,” “medium” or “low.”  In 2009, the Tobacco Control Act banned these descriptors for cigarettes.  The stated rationale for the ban was the assertion that many consumers believed that descriptors such as “light” or “mild” meant that certain cigarettes were less harmful than other cigarettes. [Read more →]

August 14, 2014   Comments Off

Congressional Letter Condemns E-Cigarette Marketing and Calls for Regulations

On August 4, 2014, thirteen Members of Congress signed a letter calling on the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) to expand the regulations on e-cigarettes to include more stringent rules regarding alleged youth exposure to the products.  The signatories state: “While FDA’s proposed rule sets the stage for future regulations, strong regulatory actions on marketing to children, e-cigarette flavors, and online sales cannot wait. FDA has an existing mechanism to protect children now—without waiting years to implement new regulations to accomplish these goals.” [Read more →]

August 12, 2014   Comments Off

Twenty-Nine State Attorneys General Call for Tougher Regulations of Electronic Cigarettes

On August 8, 2014, a group of Attorneys General from 29 states submitted comments in response to the Food and Drug Administration’s (“FDA”) Notice of Proposed Rule deeming certain tobacco products subject to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.  In their letter, the group of Attorneys General stated that “[w]hile the Proposed Rule addresses some of our concerns, it fails to address matters of particular concern, such as characterizing flavors, the marketing of e-cigarettes, and the sale of tobacco products over the Internet.”  As a result, the group of Attorneys General advocates, among other things, that the FDA should do the following: [Read more →]

August 12, 2014   Comments Off

TTB to Propose Rules Distinguishing Pipe Tobacco from Cigarette Tobacco

The Senate Finance Committee this week held a hearing entitled Tobacco:  Taxes Owed, Avoided, and Evaded.  The purpose of the meeting was to address alleged tax evasion in three principal areas:  (1) evading higher cigar taxes by increasing the weight of products to qualify for the lower rate imposed on large cigars; (2) evading higher roll-your-own tobacco taxes by marketing cigarette tobacco as pipe tobacco, and (3) trafficking in contraband tobacco products, such as counterfeit or illegally manufactured products.  The head of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, John Manfreda, as well as industry representatives and tobacco control advocates, testified. [Read more →]

August 2, 2014   Comments Off

Court Finds Conflicts of Interest on TPSAC Panel, Bars Use of Menthol Report

On July 21, 2014, Judge Richard Leon of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) was barred from considering a 2011 report that recommended the removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace (the “Menthol Report”), because the advisory committee that prepared the report was tainted by conflicts of interest.  [Read more →]

July 27, 2014   Comments Off

Senate Introduces Bill Calling for “Special Packaging” Requirements for E-Liquid

On July 10, 2014, Senator Nelson of Florida, along with several co-sponsors, introduced a bill in Congress that calls for “special packaging” requirements for e-liquid.  Commonly known as the Child Nicotine Poisoning Act of 2014, Senate Bill 2581 (“S. 2581”) calls on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (the “Commission”) to require childproof packaging, or “special packaging” for any e-liquid container, referred to in the bill as a “liquid nicotine container.”  S. 2581 has been referred to the House Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. [Read more →]

July 18, 2014   Comments Off