We could say that electronic cigarettes are an invention of the century, and to say we would be wrong. Its origins are confused between patents, inventors and companies, especially Americans. A knot full of twists and turns that Camille Higham US lawyer specializing in patents, has tried to disentangle. It has therefore analyzed this confused history which dates back to the 60s.

“As in any field of innovation, the timeline for patents of the electronic cigarette is complex,” says Higham to HojaDeRouter.com. However, one thing seems certain: the journey of this unique contraption begins with US Patent No. 3,200,819, which Herbert A. Gilbert introduced in 1963 under the title “without snuff and cigarette smoke free” ( ‘Smokeless Non Cigarette -Tobacco ‘).

The inventor defines it as an object that would not cause damage in the fingers or discomfort to the user, and would provide “a safe and harmless for replacing smoking and snuff burning paper hot, humid air and flavored medium”. Also as a device that would be used to treat respiratory diseases and to “inhale hot medication that come directly to the lungs.”

The patent also suggests adding fragrance to the steam, to curb the urge to smoke cigarettes. The artificial flavor Scotch whiskey was one of his suggestions.

After that patent, the chronology of the following “is not necessarily linear”: there are many innovations that are taking place simultaneously in different parts of the world (although most are based in the United States).

Between 1963 and 1984, they were still few patents related to electronic cigarettes that referred to Gilbert. It is in the 80s and early 90s when many companies, especially tobacco companies, echoed his invention are made. Thereafter, the number of patent applications electronic cigarette “has increased considerably and candidates are more varied.” Throughout this period, are 170 patents mentioning the pioneer and adding something new to electronic cigarettes or some of its parts.

“Before the cigars were made known, someone saw a clear potential in this field, but who and for what purpose?” Higham wonders. They are mostly pharmaceutical companies, seeking solutions to stop smoking or they intend to gain a foothold in the new market.

It was back in 2001 when the pharmaceutical Alexza Pharmaceuticals began marketing the Staccato system, conceived as a product for vaporization and inhalation of drugs and to treat acute and intermittent conditions. There are 28 patents related to these cigarettes that refer to the drug. “Although its creation is not directly linked to electronic cigarettes themselves, the technique employing yes it is,” said the lawyer.

After it, 66 patent applications refer to the large tobacco company Philip Morris – responsible for brands like Marlboro. His famous electronic cigarette is Markten, which uses a technology “that distributes heating fluidly thanks to its electric system.” Higham explains that technology out of the 6,994,096 patent, filed by the inventors Ali Rostami A. and Susan E.Wrenn in 2003, and later assigned to the tobacco.

electronic cigarette history

This patent, in turn, refers to a previous (the 5,093,894) 1989 which spoke of a powered by a linear heating element. This device, designed by Seetharama C. Deevi and Francis M. Sprinkel, was designed to be integrated into an aerosol, spray or inhaler.

Then Reynolds American tobacco – one of the main competitors of Philip Morris, owner of Winston and Camel, among other brands – presented to nineteen patent applications that refer to Gilbert. Ten of them were recorded between 1988 and 2000, and made possible VUSE your electronic cigarette.

Already in 2012, the company sold Lorillard blu eCigs, although last year Reynolds American signed an agreement to acquire the company and thus its technology. NJOY also marketed their own, but ensuring that they never would be part of a company of snuff. In its documents no explicit reference to prior patents, although it is still obviously the experience of others.

Companies latest creation seem to be based on a patent (the 20,130,247,924 Mark Scatterday and Craig Weiss ) , introduced in 2012 , which described an electronic cigarette flexible and soft configuration. According to the document, the aim was to produce a very similar to real cigarettes feel and that, despite this flexibility, be strong enough to protect the internal components.


Explains the lawyer in this type of product, it is common that the customer appreciates manufacturing problems, such as ” high warming you burn your finger or inefficiency when inhale the steam .” It can also happen that a user finds any deficiency or find something that does not offer electronic cigarette as ” a system for easy cleaned or to make them reusable.”

In addition, for some companies, having in his pocket certain patents can be a way to add value to your company. If we add the cost to apply for them it is much lower than the product itself to develop, manufacture or distribute, almost anyone can have one. “You can have one and then let the creation of the product to someone else,” says the lawyer.

Higham explains that in the United States, this type of cigarettes are not yet fully regulated with the traditional way. Moreover, the cost of entry into the world of electronic cigarette “is relatively low compared to the traditional industry.” This makes the sector continues to be driven by small businesses and even individually. “There is enough demand and the industry is still evolving, so any solution or innovative variation will be rewarded.”

The lawyer also believes that innovations and developments patents and “depend on the political path to reach this sector but also the health studies to be published from now.” In the North American country, for the moment, are more accepted that traditional, perhaps “because it is still too early to know the effects they can have on our health.”

Although they are decades behind, it is still too early to predict whether such cigarettes have a permanent and dominant place in the market. “Normal cigars still have strong support, so it is difficult to imagine that any similar product may supplant in the near future “, says Higham.


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