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Imperial Tobacco Moves to Enter the E-Cig Market

Imperial Tobacco Moves to Enter the E-Cig Market

Electronic cigarette use is booming in the UK and tobacco companies are starting to cash in on this hot new market. British American Tobacco made the first move by launching their new e-cig product called Vype. Hot on their trail, we now see Imperial Tobacco moving towards the e-cig industry as well. This week, a UK newspaper announced that Imperial is buying the e-cigarette division of Chinese-made Dragonite.

The transaction is slated to take place pending approval from Dragonite shareholders in China. With this new acquisition, Imperial will not only purchase the e-cig division of Dragonite, but also the original patent for e-cigarettes.

Hon Lik, the co-founder of Dragonite, was the first to invent electronic cigarettes. While their original e-cigarette hasn’t been wildly successful or popular, the e-cig technology has become world famous. As a result, Dragonite’s patented e-cigarette design has been quite the moneymaker. As Imperial purchases this patent, they will in essence receive the right to take legal action against companies that violate it. They will also be eligible to receive compensation from any current legal claims.

Dragonite has already pursued ten e-cigarette companies for violating their patent. Among these companies were brands like Mistic, 21st Century Smokes, FIN, Metro, Logic, Safe Cig, NJOY, CIG20, Krave, Fifty-One, VaporX, and Blu Cigs. Right before Lorillard purchased Blu Cigs, they settled by paying Dragonite an unknown amount to compensate for the patent infringement. Other lawsuits have been settled or are still in progress.

Moving forward after the acquisition, Imperial can take legal action against any company that infringes on this original e-cigarette patent. While the Dragonite e-cigarette might not be profit generating machine, this patent is definitely a sound investment.

Imperial plans to launch their new line of e-cigarette products in 2014. The market is already hot in the UK, with approximately 1.3 million people already vaping. That number is only expected to climb in the near future. Now that British American Tobacco and Imperial are both getting involved with electronic cigarette sales, the smaller brands will have to work all that much harder to compete in the UK market. These tobacco giants are undoubtedly making a smart financial move by investing in e-cigarettes with smoking rates falling and e-cig use rapidly increasing across the UK.

Are you excited to see Imperial’s new line of e-cigarettes next year? How do you expect them to handle ownership of the e-cigarette patent?

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