Vaporizer pens are the most high-tech way to inhale most everything nowadays: tobacco, marijuana. The vaporizer industry is in its “Wild West” stage at the moment: Companies like G-Pen, which are endorsed by the rappers Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg, have made hand-over-fist money in the last few years, and knockoff pens can be found all over the internet.
Jeff Wright, age 24, says that in 2015, he read an article in High Times magazine about a vaporizer called the
In Florida, vaporizers have created something of a conundrum for state lawmakers, who are now scrambling to regulate the industry: Last year, the state made it illegal to sell an electronic cigarette to anyone under the age of 18. On January 6, state Rep. Shawn Harrison introduced a bill to ban the usage of vaporizers in public places, like restaurants and shopping malls. According to a 2015 Miami Herald piece, vaporizer sales grew nationally from $1 billion to $3.5 billion from 2012 to 2015.
Wright, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, says he got into the vaporizer business after selling cheap vaporizer pens on eBay.
“They were just generic ones,” he tells New Times. “White label, kinda resembled the ones from the G-Pen brand. But we were amazed at how fast they were selling.” So, he says, he and two other friends decided to start their own vaporizer company, "
Wright grew up in
“We’d seen this need for originality,” he said. “Most of the vaporizers were just rebranded G-Pens.”
On October 10, 2014, Wright and his team filed to trademark the word “
But before the trademark was approved, Wright claims Gibson contacted his firm on Facebook last March, asking out-of-the-blue if he could buy Wright’s entire company.
“Are you guys interested in selling your company?” Gibson asked, according to photos of the Facebook Messenger conversation, which were included in the complaint. “Where can I get a sample?”
“Hi were not interested in selling our company,” [sic] a
The lawsuit claims Gibson discussed some sort of business venture with the trio from
“I called him several times, and spoke with them several times,” Wright says. “He gave us his personal number. He said he was moving from a warehouse in
Until, however, Wright noticed the High Times article, and Kandy Pens’ Instagram page, where photos of a vape called “
“He just took the name and started running with it,” Wright says.
It isn't the first time Gibson, based in Arizona, has been accused of wrongdoing. Gibson formerly ran a series of health-food companies in Arizona, California, and Delaware. In 2010, the Federal Trade Commission sued Gibson for making false claims in his ads, including charging customers for “free” trials, and saying his products had been endorsed by Oprah Winfrey and Rachael Ray. In 2012, Gibson settled with the
In April 2015, Gibson told a Phoenix tech-news website, which referred to Gibson as a “serial entrepreneur,” that he wanted Kandy Pens to become the “Apple of the portable Vape industry.”
But Wright says the lawsuit has crippled his business.