Heinz in Patent Suit Over Squeeze Packet

Aug 21, 2012 03:33 AM EDT | By Sharon Robinson

H.J.Heinz Co., the world famous ketchup manufacturer, is the latest company to get involved in a lawsuit. Scott White, an inventor, has filed a case against the company, accusing it of stealing his idea for its latest condiment packaging.

White, a risk analyst, claims that the idea for Heinz's "Dip and Squeeze" condiment packet is based on his invention and accuses Heinz of copyright infringement. He claims to have created the "CondiCup," for which he filed for patent in 2005.

Heinz came out with its version of the CondiCup in 2011, after White pitched them his idea in 2006. White claims to have emailed them regarding the idea, but Heinz allegedly told him that his idea was not patentable.

Heinz spokesman Michael Mullen said to the Wall Street Journal that Heinz had "worked for years to develop its patented dual-function Dip & Squeeze package." Moreover, Heinz will defend its position and will demonstrate that "the plaintiff's allegations are groundless and without merit."

White's condiment packet allows a person to peel off the cover entirely, or to just pinch off a bit from a corner for the ketchup to be squeezed out. Heinz's packet works the same. However, Heinz's packet is shaped like the silhouette of a ketchup bottle, whereas White's CondiCup had a rounded bottom to fit in a car's cup-holder, reports WSJ.

The case is Scott White vs. H.J.Heinz Co., filed in a district court in Chicago.

Heinz is not the first food company this year to get involved in a lawsuit. In late July, General Mills was sued by two California moms, who accused the company of lying on the labels of its Nature Valley products. They claim that the products are not natural at all.

Fast food chains, like McDonalds' and KFC, have been sued by a government official in Chile for using toys to attract children to buy meals, and thus contributing to child obesity. Using toys in fast food meals is illegal in Chile. 

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