Juul Labs, the e-cig firm underneath hearth for its product’s recognition with younger individuals, has introduced on a brand new VP of Intellectual Property Protection with Adrian Punderson, previously of PwC and Apple.
Punderson’s job is all about working alongside authorities companies, in addition to Juul Labs Intellectual Property VP Wayne Sobon, to fight the sale of counterfeit and infringing merchandise. These can vary from copycat vapes and pods which are really marketed as Juul merchandise all the best way to merchandise which are designed particularly to be Juul appropriate with out utilizing the trademark.
These counterfeit and infringing merchandise pose a severe menace to the corporate. Of course, no enterprise needs its merchandise infringed or its market share stolen.
With Juul, nonetheless, it’s way more sophisticated. Juul Labs is at the moment underneath heavy FDA scrutiny over the recognition of its merchandise with minors.
“As you start to enforce generally on the sale of these types of products to youth, oftentimes they are going to look for another seller or distribution point of this product,” mentioned Punderson. “The challenge is that oftentimes they’re going to platforms or places for this and you have no idea what the origin of the product is. A lot of it is counterfeit. So they get something they believe is Juul only to find out they have a counterfeit device or pod.”
He went on to say that, for Juul, a high precedence is figuring out counterfeit sellers and shortly placing that data into the palms of regulation enforcement. To the extent that they’ll’t take motion, mentioned Punderson, Juul will take civil motion.
Part of the priority is that there’s zero transparency into what elements are being utilized in infringing merchandise, whereas Juul’s recipe no less than meets the authorized necessities for disclosure because it seeks full FDA approval.
Juul doesn’t at the moment have knowledge across the scale of infringing merchandise in the marketplace, however counterfeit Juul merchandise might inaccurately enhance gross sales figures, intensifying scrutiny from the FDA.
Juul has already taken legal action in opposition to many infringing manufacturers and distributors, however Punderson goals to take Juul’s efforts in opposition to infringing merchandise to a brand new stage.
He sees the difficulty as threefold: Juul Labs should work to cease these merchandise from being manufactured within the first place, guarantee they aren’t allowed throughout borders into the nation and take motion in opposition to retailers who promote infringing merchandise and take away them from the market.
“This isn’t a problem where there is only a production problem but there isn’t really a distribution or consumption problem,” mentioned Punderson. “We don’t have the luxury of looking at the problem singly-faceted. From a global perspective, we want to stop the production and distribution of infringing products around the world, and we’ll work closely with government agencies attempting to stop illicit distribution of goods.”
Punderson beforehand served as managing director of IP Protection at PriceWaterhouse Coopers, VP of Global Anti-Counterfeiting/Anti-Diversion at Oakley and labored at Apple on the Intellectual Property Enforcement staff.
Juul is at the moment considered by many as a Facebook-ified, 2018 model of Marlboro. Notably, Juul Labs lately closed a $12.8 billion investment from Altria Group, the makers of Marlboro cigarettes. When requested why he selected to work for Juul, Punderson mentioned his preliminary response was no. But after he did some analysis across the mission of the corporate, and considered his personal private expertise dropping his father to emphysema, he got here round shortly.
“I would do anything to get two or three more years with my dad, who was a lifelong smoker,” mentioned Punderson. “[…] We’re trying to do good things here, move people away from tobacco and give them an alternative. To me, it’s a valuable, noble cause that’s worth being involved in and I’m proud to be here.”
It stays to be seen simply how huge of a problem infringing merchandise are for Juul and different above-board e-cig makers, however Juul is ramping up its efforts to fight copycats from moving into the palms of customers.