Survey on Intellectual Property Rights of 22 Vape Brands in China

Today, Landong will give you some information about the intellectual property rights of 20 China domestic electronic cigarette brands. Previously, we reported on the application and acquisition of intellectual property rights in China by the international electronic cigarette brands IQOS and Juul.

After reading this article, you will know the gap between domestic and foreign electronic cigarettes. Let’s first elaborate on Juul’s intellectual property rights in China, including trademarks and patents.

Juul is the most well-known representative of the vape brand. Last year, it was valued at more than $38 billion and belongs to the investment enterprise of Altria Group. Landong had previously learned from sources that Juul, the US electronic cigarette giant, was about to enter China and was secretly building a Chinese team.

Juul applied for a patent in China under the name of PAX Laboratory Company.

Landong inquired that only one patent was patented by the manufacturer of PAX LABS of Juul, which mainly involved the nicotine salt mixtures for vape devices and their methods. It provided liquid nicotine salt mixtures for producing inhalable aerosols in electronic cigarettes, including nicotine salts that formed about 0.5% to about 20% of nicotine.

The invention patent has not yet been officially granted.

Juul also applied for four patents under the name of PAX LABS Ltd.

Patented is the charging device of the electronic evaporator. Three patents still under substantive review are: portable convective evaporators on demand; aerosol devices with spacer materials; coreless vaporization devices and methods.

In terms of trademark registration, Juul applied for 111 trademarks including Juul in the name of PAX Laboratory Co., Ltd. and obtained 65 trademark rights, including 34 tobacco trademarks, which were applied for in 2013. However, the 35th trademark related to Internet and advertising was registered by a Shenzhen company and obtained trademark rights. The application date was August 2016.

Juul’s application for intellectual property rights in China is quite comprehensive, including the core patent nicotine salt, the core trademark name Juul, and even the Chinese name Juul has been in the preliminary process of trademark application.

Landong needs to first acknowledge the three rights included in intellectual property rights: patent, copyright and trademark. Patents are divided into invention patents, utility model patents and design patents. This article does not discuss copyright, but summarizes trademark rights.

The invention patents referred to in the Patent Law are divided into two categories: product inventions (such as machines, instruments, equipment and appliances) and method inventions (manufacturing methods).

Patents for utility models refer to new technological schemes suitable for practical use proposed for the shape, structure or combination of products. In patent law, the creativity and technological level of utility models are lower than those of invention patents. They are also called small inventions or small patents.

Design patents refer to new designs that are aesthetically appealing and suitable for industrial applications, which are made by the combination of product shape, pattern or its combination, as well as the combination of color, shape and pattern.

Popular understanding is that every electronic cigarette can apply for design patents whatever it looks like. In fact, it can not reflect the company’s influence on the core components of electronic cigarettes, but a well-designed product can add points to the product and become a part of the unique brand structure.

In terms of function, invention patents are larger than utility model patents.

We have screened 22 domestic brands for intellectual property investigation, mainly for consumer-oriented brands, to get financing or has been the influencer brand, supply chain enterprises are not included in this discussion.

Some of the financing in the above form has not been officially confirmed, such as RELX, which is said to have entered the third round of financing, but has not been officially confirmed.

From the table, we can see that most brands of electronic cigarettes is blank in patent application, which is related to the short time of the company’s establishment. It is also possible that the company does not have core competitiveness in electronic cigarette patents.

Companies with at least one patent right include RELX, VPO, Blue Beast, Dragon Dance, Shanlan Laan and IJoy, but most of the patents granted are design patents.

We have consulted the specific conditions of several companies that have obtained patent rights separately. And we will focus on the cut-off annotations when it comes to invention patents.

RELX has obtained six appearance patents, one utility model patent and one invention patent (pictured above) which are in the stage of substantive examination.

Dragon Dance has won two design patent.

VPO has obtained two utility model patents and one design patent.

Blue Beast’s Patent for Invention I

Blue Beast’s Patent for Invention II

Blue Beast’s Application for Patent 3 for Invention

Blue Beast has won 2 invention patents, 12 design patents, 4 utility model patents, and one invention patent is under substantive review. This product only appears in various financing summary lists, but the actual brand voice is not very loud.

Shanlan Laan has obtained a utility model patent. It is surprising that Shanlan, which was founded very early, has no patent reserve in technology.

IJoy has won 19 patents for appearance design, which can be called design maniac.
Among these companies, Landong suggests focusing on Blue Beast and RELX. After all, several invention patents have been granted or are under substantive review, but the originality of the related invention patents may need to be further studied.

Everyone is very active in applying for trademark rights. After all, in the new consumer era, brand occupies the user’s mind which is very important. If the brand name propagated by the enterprise does not own the trademark right in the end, it is likely to make a wedding dress for others.

Landong’s point of view: No need to panic without patent accumulation, market growth is the first priority

Landong analysis believes that once Juul enters China, nicotine salt patents will be Juul’s favorable means to clamp down on domestic e-cigarette brands. Juul has a more comprehensive choice of whether to strike first, then develop or fatten the market first and then slaughter.

However, from the practice of the Internet industry, intellectual property rights can be said to be the role of the shelter, not the role of strategic siege. Take the shared power bank industry as an example, Street Electric is struggling on court, but the products of Street Electric still occupy a lot of market share.

The more patents you have, the wider your shelter is, but that doesn’t mean you can lie down and grab the market. The acquisition of market share requires marketing, brand, product multi-wheel drive, as well as time window and fast execution.

In the short term, the vape industry is in the early stage of development in China. Many domestic brands can rise in a short period of time, which has proved the potential of domestic start-up companies.

In the long run, even if patents will become a constraint, they will not be a short-term factor. First, development, then governance, first enclosure, and then standardization are more reliable choices for start-ups.

In extreme terms, 99% of companies in the industry do not have core patents, which actually means temporary safety for individuals. The disaster comes to the big company first, and they should seize time when they have the opportunity to develop.

But the principle is that infringement of intellectual property rights is prohibited.

Landong judges that e-cigarette entrepreneurship has advanced from the brand stage of influencer to the stage of market growing, who can seize the opportunity to quickly develop, then who will be able to gain more market share.

For domestic e-cigarette brands, obtaining financing publicity, planning CEO’s influencer features, and their own patent strength will bring brand exposure at the consumer side. Many Shenzhen brands have good strength, but the popularity is still not as good as the latest e-cigarette brands. We believe that the core reason is that some enterprises’traditional thinking of marketing consumer goods has not changed. Sales channels are the core, but brand awareness will enhance the trust of users and distribution channels to products.

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