Big Tobacco’s Interest in Big Cannabis Heats Up With 29 New Patent Filings

Seeing a company apply for multiple patent assets shows a determination to lead in that space. After all, patent investment always leads market activity and is a great indicator for future M&A activity. British American Tobacco’s (BAT) stand-alone start-up Nicoventures Trading Limited had 29 patent applications published in early and mid June 2021 all for oral tobacco alternatives comprising nicotine and cannabinoids. Nicoventures Trading Limited was formed in 2010 to create products for BAT and has a focus on developing tobacco alternatives that reduce the risks that would be taken by smoking, all while keeping the experience consistent. According to the CDC, in 2015, 68% of adult cigarette smokers reported wanting to quit smoking, and in 2018, 55.1% of adult cigarette smokers reported having tried to quit smoking within the past year. Only one-third of adult cigarette smokers reported using cessation medication approved by the FDA. With so many adult smokers wanting to quit, there’s no question that products like the ones Nicoventures is working on will be in demand. 

Nicoventures has had some hurdles to cross previously, the most recent being an infringement lawsuit brought against its parent company BAT in 2018 by Philip Morris regarding two patents for a heat-not-burn tobacco product manufactured by Nicoventures. The sitting judge ruled that both patents were infringing Philip Morris’ 1993 patent for a heat-not-burn tobacco product. While Nicoventures is not alone in the cannabinoid oral compositions space, it does seem like it has found an area Philip Morris and its parent Altria have not entered. Nicoventures could lead the cannabinoid oral compositions space if most of its patent applications are granted, and would have only a few contending assignees such as Cabbacis, Trinidad Consulting, and Flavorsense which all have a patent for a nicotine and cannabinoid oral pouch as well. Nicoventures very well may have found its niche in the over-saturated area of smoking cessation products. Leading in this space would make Nicoventures an attractive company for investors. 

Back in March 2021, BAT signed a strategic collaboration agreement with Canadian cannabis company Organigram to research and develop next-generation adult cannabis products. BAT offers cannabinoid vaping products through its subsidiaries like Reynolds American, which we highlighted in a previous insight. The race to Big Cannabis is just getting started and we will soon see things heating up. 

To stay updated with BAT and Nicoventures and their competitors, use the Cannabis Patent Forecast® which provides informative patent visualization tools and insights into patent and market activity. Start your trial today!