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Marlboro Man Versus Joe Camel 2.0: Big Tobacco’s Patent Fights

March 30, 2022, 4:00 AM

Warren Buffett once described the tobacco industry as a no-brainer: make a cigarette for one cent and sell it for a dollar. Those days are long gone.

With the rise of heated tobacco, vapes and nicotine pouches, companies such as Philip Morris International Inc. and British American Tobacco Plc are shifting from simple cigarettes to high-tech, rechargeable gadgets.

The explosion of inventions to deliver nicotine without the most harmful effects of smoking has sparked scores of disputes over who owns the technology. Tobacco companies that once competed for the best marketing executives are now chasing the top patent lawyers.

The ...