Imperial Tobacco Group Plc’s (LON:IMT) Fontem Ventures subsidiary announced today that it had entered a into a license agreement with Japan Tobacco International to settle a patent infringement lawsuit over e-cigarette technology.
The legal quarrel began in March last year, when Imperial filed eight patent infringement cases in the United States against its Japanese rival and other e-cigarette makers. The lawsuits followed Imperial's 2013 acquisition of global e-cigarette patents from Hong Kong-based Dragonite International, whose co-founder Hon Lik is credited with inventing the e-cigarette.
Under the terms of today’s agreement, Fontem has granted Japan Tobacco a global licence to certain patents for e-cigarettes. The financial terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed.
Fontem last month struck similar deals with the makers of the NJOY, 21st Century Smoke and Vapin Plus brand e-cigarettes. Together with the JTI deal, these agreements cover three of the patent infringement cases filed by Imperial Tobacco last year.
Fontem is the owner of blu, one of the leading e-cigarette brands in the US and the UK.
In today’s trading, Imperial Tobacco shares were down 0.2 percent at 3,554.00p as of 13:59 GMT. The stock has risen 25.3 percent since the start of the year and the company’s market capitalisation currently stands at £34.1 billion.
The 18 analysts offering 12 month price targets for Imperial Tobacco have a median target of 3,775p, with a high estimate of 4,100p and a low estimate of 2,700p. As of November 28, 2015, the consensus forecast amongst 21 polled investment analysts covering Imperial Tobacco had it that the company will outperform the market. The same consensus estimate has been maintained since August 24, 2015, when the sentiment of investment analysts improved from “hold”.