The Mystery of Stephane Vlachos and the Stolen Ecigarette Patent
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by: James Dunworth

Headshot of Stephen Vlachos with e-cigar in hand.

It wasn’t so long ago that we all assumed Hon Lik invented the ecigarette.

Then we found Herbert Gilbert invented a similar device in 1963, and that Dr Jacobson trialled a vaping device (albeit not electronic cigarette) in the late 70’s and 80’s.

Now it seems there is another contender.

If you look on the Simple English Wikipedia here, you won’t see the usual claim that Herbert Gilbert or Hon Lik invented the electronic cigarette.

Instead, the site claims that that the ecigarette was invented by Stephane Vlachos.

A capture of a page from Wikipedia claiming Stephen Vlachos is the inventor of the ecigarette.

I’d never heard of him before, but a quick internet search revealed that the claim has been repeated on various blogs.

Some sites claim he never patented his device, but on his linked-in page Stephane claims to be the holder of a 2001 electronic cigarette patent.

Screenshot of patent claim from Linked In.

The claim is repeated on a number of (mostly small) sites and blogs on the web, including the Best Electronic Cigarette blog.

Stolen Patent?

Apparently, Stephane claims to have invented the electronic cigarette in 2001, and exhibited his device at the the International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva in 2002.

Wikipedia claims that he never patented the device, but on Stephane’s linked in page he claims he did.

Some sites also suggest that the idea was stolen from Stephane by a Chinese girl who passed the designs on to her uncle.

Looking for Evidence

When I contacted Best Electronic Cigarette they told me their article had been written by an external writer and they didn’t know of any evidence to support the claim.  I’ve also contact Stephane via LinkedIn but had no reply, and had a message from Linked In saying they were unable to send the message to Stephane’s inbox.

Fortunately, the exhibition where Stephane claimed to have demonstrated his invention did answer my queries, and were very helpful.

Hello,

This person did not exhibit in 2011 under this name. Maybe it was another name? Or another year? We will willingly help if we have more info!

Best regards

Anne Loertscher
Assistant Manager

Update: Thanks to readers who are a bit more careful than I am :( , we noticed that Anne had referred to 2011, not to 2002/1. Anne kindly checked again, and wrote:

We still have no trace of this name. I do remember however 2 inventors with “forerunners” of the electronic cigarette as we know it now. One was a gentleman from Asia but the other I simply cannot find. I must just say again that he may have exhibited under another name or since have sold the rights to his invention.

I also looked for a patent. But a Google patent search using both the patent number and Stepehene’s name revealed nothing:

Screen grab of a search for the Vlachos ecig patent.

And nor does a US patent search.

Why this post?

1. When a story is published on the internet (especially on Wikipedia) and repeated enough, it seems to gain a truth of it’s own. (Case in point – the claim that ecigarettes are unregulated!)

It would be nice to find out the truth before that happens with this story!

2. While I couldn’t find definitive evidence that Vlachos invented the ecigarette, neither could I find definitive evidence that he did not.

The lovely people who read my blog are often very well informed and there’s a good chance that one of you will know something that I don’t!

So if you know something I don’t, please leave a note in the comments ;)

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