Who Patented the Vape? The History and Inventors Behind the Popular Smoking Alternative

Are you curious about who patented the vape? The history of vaping and e-cigarettes is a fascinating one, and it all started with the invention of the electric vaporizer. While many people have claimed to be the original inventor of the vape, there are a few key players who are credited with bringing this technology to the masses.

One of the earliest patents for an “electric vaporizer” was filed in 1927 by a man named Joseph Robinson. Robinson’s device was designed to make it easier to inhale vapors “without any possibility of being burned.” While Robinson’s invention didn’t catch on at the time, it paved the way for future inventors to refine the technology and create the e-cigarettes that we know today.

Another inventor who played a key role in the development of the vape was Herbert A. Gilbert. In 1963, Gilbert applied for a patent for his “smokeless non-tobacco cigarette,” which produced a flavored vapor that was meant to replace tobacco smoke. While Gilbert’s invention was nicotine-free, it was a major step forward in the development of e-cigarettes, and it provided the foundation for many of the devices that would come later.

History of the Vape


If you’re curious about the history of the vape, you’re not alone. Vaping has become a popular alternative to smoking, and it’s interesting to know how it all started. Let’s take a look at the history of the vape.


The first electronic cigarette was invented by Joseph Robinson in 1927. His Mechanical Butane Ignition Vaporizer was designed to hold medicinal compounds. Robinson’s invention was a response to the unsanitary and unsafe devices used for the same purpose at the time. However, he did not try to commercialize his invention.

Fast forward to the 1960s, Herbert A. Gilbert created a device that closely resembled the modern e-cigarette. He received a patent in 1965, but failed to commercialize it.

It wasn’t until 2003 that the first e-cigarette design was patented in China by Hon Lik, a pharmacist who was trying to quit smoking. Lik’s design used a heating element to vaporize a liquid solution containing nicotine. This was the breakthrough that led to the modern vaping industry.


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First Patent

Joseph Robinson filed the first patent for a vaporizer in 1927. His invention was aimed at holding medicinal compounds and was designed to be easy to use and easy to clean. Robinson’s patent was granted in 1930, but he did not try to commercialize his invention.

The first patent for an electronic cigarette was filed by Herbert A. Gilbert in 1963. Gilbert’s patent was granted in 1965, but he failed to bring his device to market. It wasn’t until Hon Lik’s invention in 2003 that the modern vaping industry was born.

Today, the vaping industry is a multi-billion dollar industry with millions of users around the world. The history of the vape is an interesting one, and it’s exciting to see how the technology continues to evolve.

The Inventor: Hon Lik

If you’re wondering who patented the vape, the answer is Hon Lik. Hon Lik is a Chinese pharmacist and inventor who is credited with inventing the first modern e-cigarette.

Hon Lik started working on the e-cigarette in 2001, after his father, a heavy smoker, died of lung cancer. He was motivated to find a less harmful alternative to smoking, and after experimenting with various prototypes, he came up with the first commercially successful e-cigarette in 2003.

The device consisted of a battery, a heating element, and a cartridge containing a nicotine solution. When the user inhaled, the heating element vaporized the solution, creating a smoke-like aerosol that could be inhaled.

Hon Lik filed patents on his invention in China, the United States, and the European Union based on his 2003 priority application in China. His invention quickly gained popularity in China, and by 2005, it had spread to other countries in Asia and Europe.

The popularity of e-cigarettes continued to grow, and by 2012, they had become a billion-dollar industry. Today, e-cigarettes are used by millions of people around the world as an alternative to traditional cigarettes.


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  • Smooth & Boost Adjustable Two Models
  • 25ml E-liquid Capacity
  • 50mg Strength
  • Up to 20000 Puffs

Despite inventing the e-cigarette to help himself quit smoking, Hon Lik is now a dual user, both smoking and vaping. He continues to work in the vaping industry and has been recognized for his contributions to public health.

Patent Controversies

When it comes to the patenting of vaping technology, there have been several controversies over the years. Here are a few notable examples:

R.J. Reynolds vs Fuma

In 2019, Fuma sued R.J. Reynolds for allegedly infringing on patents related to an e-cigarette design with a cartridge and power source. The case was settled shortly before trial, and the terms of the settlement were not disclosed [1].

Philip Morris vs RAI Strategic Holdings Inc.

In 2022, Philip Morris won a $10 million patent infringement case against R.J. Reynolds. The federal court jury found that R.J. Reynolds’ Vuse Solo and Alto devices infringed on two Philip Morris patents related to parts of a vaping device for heating substances and preventing leaks [2].

Altria vs R.J. Reynolds

Also in 2022, a North Carolina jury awarded Altria Group Inc. more than $95 million in damages after finding that e-cigarettes from R.J. Reynolds’ top-selling Vuse line infringed on three Altria patents. The case is currently being appealed [3].

These are just a few examples of the patent controversies that have arisen in the vaping industry. As the technology continues to evolve, it’s likely that there will be more legal battles over who owns the rights to certain vaping innovations.

Note: It’s important to keep in mind that the information provided in this section is accurate as of the current date and may be subject to change as new developments arise.


  1. R.J. Reynolds settles e-cigarette patent dispute shortly before trial
  2. Philip Morris wins $10 million from R.J. Reynolds in e-cigarette patent case
  3. Altria wins $95 mln patent verdict from R.J. Reynolds in e-cigarette case

Impact on Tobacco Industry

The emergence of vaping has had a significant impact on the tobacco industry. As more people turn to vaping as an alternative to smoking, the demand for traditional tobacco products has declined. This has forced tobacco companies to adapt to the changing market by investing in the development of their own vaping products.

According to a commentary article published in the National Institutes of Health, the relationship between the vape shop industry and the tobacco industry is generally adversarial. However, some vape and smoke shops have been rejected by a majority of the vape shop industry.

One way tobacco companies have adapted is by acquiring or investing in vaping companies. For example, in 2019, Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris USA, invested $12.8 billion in Juul Labs, a leading vaping company. This move was seen as a way for Altria to diversify its product offerings and stay competitive in the changing market.

Another way tobacco companies have adapted is by developing their own vaping products. For example, Philip Morris International developed a product called IQOS, which heats tobacco instead of burning it. The company claims that this reduces the amount of harmful chemicals released compared to traditional smoking.

Despite the decline in demand for traditional tobacco products, the tobacco industry is still a major player in the market. According to a study published in BMC Public Health, e-cigarettes have become increasingly popular since their arrival on the market among users of all ages, especially adolescents. The study investigated the reasons for use, perceptions, and attitudes towards e-cigarettes in the United States.

Overall, the emergence of vaping has had a significant impact on the tobacco industry, forcing companies to adapt to the changing market. While the decline in demand for traditional tobacco products is a concern for the industry, the rise of vaping has also presented new opportunities for growth and innovation.

Regulations and Legal Battles

As vaping technology became increasingly popular, regulations and legal battles surrounding patents and trademarks emerged. Here are some notable legal battles related to vaping patents:

  • In 2022, Philip Morris International won a $10.7 million lawsuit against R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. for patent infringement on its Vuse e-cigarettes. The jury found that Vuse e-cigarettes violated Philip Morris’ patent.

  • In 2023, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a Patent Trial and Appeal Board decision from March 2022, extinguishing Philip Morris’ challenge to US Patent No. 9,901,123, covering vape or e-cigarette technology owned by RAI Strategic Holdings Inc.

  • The Elf Bar lawsuit has been at the forefront of the vaping industry’s legal battles in recent years. This legal conflict primarily centers around the name ‘ELF’, which VPR Brands, a Florida-based vape company, trademarked in 2018. The same year, ELFBAR, a disposable e-cigarette brand by Shenzhen IMiracle Technology Co. Ltd., entered the market and used a similar name. The lawsuit is still ongoing.

  • In 2021, R.J. Reynolds settled an e-cigarette maker’s claims that RJR’s Vuse line copied its technology four days before a trial was slated to begin. The details of the settlement were not disclosed.

These legal battles highlight the importance of patents and trademarks in the vaping industry. As the market continues to grow, it is likely that more legal battles will emerge. It is important for companies to protect their intellectual property rights and for consumers to be aware of the potential legal issues surrounding vaping technology.

Global Market Influence

Vaping devices have had a significant impact on the global market in recent years. According to a report by Market Business News, the number of vape products available has been increasing rapidly. This growth is attributed to the fact that vaping is seen as a healthier alternative to smoking.

In addition, the emergence of flavored e-cigarettes has also contributed to the growth of the vaping market. The report also highlights the increasing influence of social media and the rise in technological advancements by manufacturers as factors that have contributed to the growth of the vaping market.

The global e-cigarette market is expected to continue to grow at a rapid pace. A report by GlobeNewswire states that the market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 21.5% during the period 2021-2025. The report also highlights that the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes among young adults is contributing to the growth of the market.

However, the vaping market is not without its challenges. The industry has faced increased scrutiny from regulators and health organizations due to concerns over the safety of vaping products. Despite this, the vaping market is expected to continue to grow as manufacturers work to address these concerns and improve the safety and quality of their products.

In conclusion, the vaping market has had a significant impact on the global market in recent years. The increasing popularity of e-cigarettes, the emergence of flavored e-cigarettes, and the rise in technological advancements by manufacturers are all contributing to the growth of the market. However, the industry also faces challenges as it works to address concerns over the safety of vaping products.

Future of Vaping

As the popularity of vaping continues to grow, it is important to consider the future of this industry. While vaping has been proven to be less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes, there are still concerns about the long-term effects of vaping.

One potential future for vaping is increased regulation. Governments around the world are already starting to regulate the vaping industry, with some countries banning the sale of e-cigarettes altogether. It is possible that these regulations will become even stricter in the future, with more restrictions on where and how e-cigarettes can be sold.

Another potential future for vaping is increased innovation. As the technology behind e-cigarettes continues to improve, we may see new and more advanced devices hitting the market. This could include devices that are even more effective at delivering nicotine and other substances, as well as devices that are easier to use and more convenient.

Finally, it is possible that vaping could eventually replace traditional smoking altogether. While this may seem like a far-fetched idea, there are already signs that this could be happening. In countries where vaping is more popular, smoking rates have decreased significantly. As more people turn to vaping as a way to quit smoking, it is possible that we could see a future where traditional cigarettes are no longer a part of our lives.

Overall, the future of vaping is still uncertain. While there are concerns about the long-term effects of vaping, it is clear that this industry is here to stay. Whether through increased regulation, innovation, or a shift away from traditional smoking, it is likely that we will continue to see changes and developments in the world of vaping in the years to come.

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