Ohio Proctor & Gamble Sues Kraft Foods for Patent Infringement

August 29, 2007

Consumer products giant Procter & Gamble Co. has sued Kraft Foods Inc., charging that a new plastic container for Kraft’s Maxwell House coffee brand infringes on patents for P&G’s Folgers coffee container.

P&G introduced a plastic container for its Folgers coffee in 2003 that has been used to help grow the Folgers business, the Cincinnati-based company said in a statement.

“We made large investments to overcome the technical challenges in making a lightweight plastic container that can withstand the pressure changes that occur between the factory and the consumer’s home,” Jim Johnson, P&G chief legal officer, said in the statement.

P&G filed a lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco that seeks to stop Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft Foods from selling its coffee in the packaging that P&G says infringes on its patents. The lawsuit also seeks recovery of an unspecified amount in damages, P&G spokeswoman Jen Becker said.

P&G believes Maxwell House has infringed on many of the container’s innovations that are covered by P&G patents, Johnson said.

“We must protect our intellectual property,” he said.

P&G would not comment specifically on the innovations it says are covered by its patents.

Kraft spokeswoman Renee Zahery said in an e-mail response to a request for comment that she could not provide any details because Kraft had not been able to fully review the lawsuit.

“I can tell you that Kraft respects valid patent rights of others and abides by all appropriate U.S. patent laws,” Zahery said.

P&G also makes Tide detergent, Bounty paper towels and Crest toothpaste.

Some of Kraft’s other products include Nabisco cookies, Oscar Mayer meats and Post cereals.

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