On March 31, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential decision in Philip Morris Products S.A. v. International Trade Commission affirming a Section 337 ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) that blocked the importation and sale of electronic vape tobacco products infringing patents owned by R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company. While much of the precedential decision deals with Philip Morris’ procedural and agency challenges to the ITC’s ruling, the Federal Circuit also rejected arguments that several patentability findings entered by the ITC were not supported by substantial evidence. The present appeal stems back to an ITC complaint filed by R.J. Reynolds in April 2020 seeking a Section 337 investigation into Philip Morris’ IQOS line of heat-not-burn tobacco vaping products. The two patents asserted by R.J. Reynolds are U.S. Patent No. 9901123, Tobacco-Containing Smoking Article, and U.S. Patent No. 9930915, Smoking Articles and Use Thereof for Yielding Inhalation Materials. After a yearlong investigation, the administrative law judge (ALJ) concluded that the accused IQOS products infringed claims of both patents, that R.J. Reynolds established the existence of a domestic industry with respect to both patents, and that the public interest did not weigh against entry of a limited exclusion order (LEO).

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