RJ Reynolds, the maker of the Camel and Winston cigarette brands, has filed a lawsuit against SAS Technologies — also known as MaxxVapor — in a North Carolina district court over alleged infringements of the company’s trademarks, according to an article published by Law360 (registration required to view full article).
Apparently, MaxxVapor has named two of its e-liquids “Winston” and “Camell” in honor of the flavors they attempt to duplicate. The e-liquids appear to be Chinese in origin. A look at the MaxxVapor website reveals the names have since been changed to “Win” and “Cam.”
This isn’t the first Reynolds lawsuit against an e-cigarette company; Reynolds also filed suit against E Cig Best Save in 2011 for alleged trademark infringement. This case flew under the radar of most e-cigarette news websites; a decision is still pending.
As long as e-cigarettes and e-liquids have existed, companies have attempted to get away with flavor names such as “Kamel,” “Linston,” “Marbro,” “Nuport” and more. I’ve wondered for quite some time how much longer it would be before Big Tobacco struck against these companies — it appears that time is now.
If you own an e-cigarette or e-liquid company and are using names similar to popular cigarette brands in an attempt to spur sales or capture search engine traffic, now might be a good time to reevaluate your product names and make sure that your website has no potential infringements.