Juul Gets Restraining Order on Fake Chinese E-Cigarettes

(Bloomberg) -- Juul Labs Inc. took a step toward keeping Chinese e-cigarette products falsely using the Juul name off the market.

The company filed trademark claims against 30 entities in China for selling counterfeit Juul-brand devices and nicotine pods on EBay Inc., according to a statement Tuesday. Juul was granted a temporary restraining order late last month by a judge in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, who froze the PayPal accounts of those businesses.

Juul, which has more than two-thirds of the U.S. e-cigarette market, said there’s reason to believe the fake products could be harmful since the sourcing and ingredients are unknown.

“The scale of counterfeit Juul products is alarming,” Chief Executive Officer Kevin Burns said in the statement. “These counterfeiters also drive a black market where there is no age verification.”

Juul has made recent efforts to limit the sale of its products to minors, a response to backlash from public health groups and government agencies over the appeal of its devices to young adults and teens. The company has also added larger nicotine warning labels on its website and product packaging.

Juul has also teamed with online platforms to take down unlawful sales of its product, which are only legally available through authorized dealers. The company has worked to remove more than 16,000 listings from online marketplaces since January.

“Counterfeits are not welcome on EBay and we work closely with rights owners to protect their intellectual property,” said EBay Corporate Communications Director Ryan Moore. The company said only a minuscule amount of items on its website had been identified as potentially counterfeit last year.

PayPal didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case is Juul Labs Inc. v. The Unincorporated Associations Identified in Schedule A, 18-cv-01063, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria).

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