RJ Reynolds has settled a patent lawsuit with an Ohio e-cigarette manufacturer immediately after Reynolds’ Vuse Solo became the first—and, so far, the only—vaping product authorized by the FDA for U.S. sale. The lawsuit was scheduled to be heard by a jury this week.
The settlement amount is not known, but Fuma had asked for $135 million.
RJ Reynolds Vapor Co., the vape product arm of tobacco giant Reynolds American Inc. (which is a division of British American Tobacco), was sued by Fuma International LLC for violating two Fuma patents. Fuma claimed that its founder met with and gave samples of Fuma products to Reynolds executives in 2010, and that Reynolds then copied the technology to produce its Vuse Solo in 2013 and Ciro in 2017.
Fuma filed its patent complaint against Reynolds in March 2019 in a U.S. District Court in North Carolina, claiming the Vuse products infringed two Fuma patents. The details of the lawsuit are complex, involving the shape and structure of various small internal parts of the products. In May, Judge Catherine Eagles found that the Vuse Solo infringed one Fuma patent, and the Vuse Ciro infringed two.
The lawsuit was scheduled to go to a jury this week, where jurors would have considered additional patent complaints, whether the patents in question were valid, and the amount of damages Reynolds would have to pay, according to Reuters.
Fuma, based in Medina, Ohio, has sold traditional e-cigarettes since 2009. The company makes rechargeable cigalike-style devices and disposable cartomizer refills, and also bottled e-liquid. Fuma received Marketing Denial Orders from the FDA for some products in September. It had submitted PMTAs for various fruit-, cocktail- and candy-flavored e-liquids.
Fuma is still selling tobacco- and menthol-flavored e-liquid and e-cigarettes on its website. It advertises that its refill cartridges “fit on GreenSmoke batteries.”