R.J. Reynolds of Winston-Salem lost a patent infringement case to rival tobacco giant Altria Wednesday and was ordered to pay the Richmond company almost $100 million.
R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. was ordered by a federal jury in Greensboro to pay Altria Group Inc. $95.2 million for infringing on three of Altria's e-cigarettes patents in its top-selling Vuse line.
The jury in the U.S. Middle District of North Carolina awarded Atlria $95,233,292 in past damages through June 30, and post-trial proceedings will address ongoing damages through the expiration of Altria's patents in 2035. At trial, Altria urged the jury to find a royalty rate of 5.25%, which the jury accepted in returning its award of past damages.
Altria accused Reynolds Vapor of violating three patents related to storing and heating liquid nicotine in vaping devices.
"Patents are at the core of innovation and we take very seriously protecting our intellectual property," said Murray Garnick, executive vice president and general counsel at Altria. "We are pleased that the jury recognized the importance of Altria’s innovation and the value of its patent rights."
An RJR spokesperson said the company was disappointed by the verdict and would "vigorously defend the issues remaining for the court" and will appeal if necessary.
The verdict comes four months after Altria subsidiary Philip Morris International Inc. won a $10 million judgment in June in Virginia on claims that RJR's Vuse Solo and Alto devices infringed on two of its vaping patents.
RJR sued Philip Morris and Altria in the same case, claiming Philip Morris' heated-tobacco device infringed its e-cigarette patents. RJR also won an order blocking imports of the device, which Altria distributes in the United States, at the U.S. International Trade Commission.
Source: bizjournals.com-Daniel Finnegan
Editor: IPR Daily-Ann