Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The coffee patent wars heat up; Kraft to be the next Albie's?

The Chicago Tribune wrote:

Procter & Gamble claims that a new four-pound plastic container for Maxwell House violates patents on Folgers' containers. Procter & Gamble filed a similar suit in federal court in August 2007 when Maxwell House was introduced in a 39-ounce plastic container.

Of course, it would be more accurate to say that P&G asserts that Kraft's four pound plastic container for Maxwell House coffee falls within the scope of a claim (or claims) of patents of Procter & Gamble. There are no patents on "Folgers'" containers. There may be patents with claims that "cover" Folger's containers. The AP coverage was worse: P&G says Maxwell House's new four-pound plastic container infringes upon Folgers' lightweight plastic container that was introduced five years ago. RTT News was better: The lawsuit alleges that the new four-pound plastic container for Maxwell House coffee, now being introduced in the U.S., directly infringes key Procter & Gamble patents on Folgers Coffee.

Whether the following statement from P&G added light may be questioned: "They introduced a new canister using the same technology which infringes on the same patents so there is a new lawsuit," said Jen Becker, a Procter & Gamble spokeswoman.

Note the use of the word "valid" in the following: Kraft spokeswoman Susan Davison said in an e-mail that the firm hasn't yet reviewed the new suit. "But Kraft does not infringe the valid patent rights of others," she added. "We will vigorously defend ourselves in this matter."

-->But here's the rub-->

P&G struck a deal earlier this year to sell its coffee operation to J.M. Smuckers. Remember Smuckers? They're the ones that sued Albie's over the infamous "peanut butter and jelly" sandwich patent!


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