A franchised store of Ruyan Group in Beijing. The E-cigarette inventor is pursuing copycats in China and other countries. [Asianewsphoto]
Ruyan Group Holdings Ltd, the inventor of electronic cigarettes, hailed a US regulatory agency's warning against other brands of e-cigarettes as good news in its fight against copycats.
Scott Fraser, vice president of Ruyan Group, said the announcement by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will help Ruyan protect its intellectual property rights to its e-cigarette brand.
The FDA on July 22 reported that a laboratory test of e-cigarette samples of other brands found that they contained carcinogens and toxic chemicals such as diethylene glycol, an ingredient used in antifreeze.
The two American brands tested by FDA are Njoy and Smoking Everywhere. The former has been named in an IPR lawsuit initiated by Ruyn Group.
Invented in 2003 by Hon Lik, Ruyan's chief engineer, e-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that generally contain cartridges filled with nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals.
The electronic cigarette turns nicotine, which is highly addictive, and other chemicals into a vapor that is inhaled by the user.
Fraser said he was not surprised at the FDA's findings, and that he encouraged the FDA to test his company's e-cigarettes.
Praise for FDA
"The FDA is doing its job. They are concerned about consumer safety, and we support that," Fraser said.
"As the inventor, we also consider the safety of customers the top issue, and we are always testing our product," he said. "We understand the test results (of the other brands). The two copycats infringed on intellectual property. It is not surprising."
Ruyan considers its progress in North America a major achievement in 2008.
After months of intensive efforts by Ruyan America Inc, its US-based agent and distributor, the company established marketing and distribution channels to facilitate the North American launch of its product this year.
As the only legal company producing e-cigarettes in China, Ruyan has been fighting copycats since 2003.
Ruyan Group Executive Director Miu Nam said safety concerns are directly linked to copycats.
"The copycats pay less attention to the health of people and seldom conduct effective tests. Therefore, the quality of their products cannot be guaranteed," Miu said.
The company has filed eight lawsuits against copycat factories operating mostly in Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces. Many of the companies also sell counterfeit MP3s and cell phones, Ruyan has alleged.