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Inventor accuses PepsiCo/Gatorade of patent infringement

By Elaine Watson , 14-Dec-2011
Last updated on 14-Dec-2011 at 14:51 GMT

Oregon-based Benjamin Levit claims the Gatorade G Series Prime 01 4 oz. pouch infringes his patent
Oregon-based Benjamin Levit claims the Gatorade G Series Prime 01 4 oz. pouch infringes his patent

An Oregon-based inventor has filed a complaint in a federal court in Illinois accusing PepsiCo of patent infringement by using his patented packaging designs in its Gatorade G Series pouches.

In a complaint filed in the US District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, plaintiff Benjamin Lewit claims PepsiCo’s Gatorade pouches infringe his patent (US patent #6,244,467) awarded in June 2001 for a ‘Material container and dispenser having a litterless closure’.

The complaint, filed on Monday by Chicago-based law firm Niro, Haller & Niro and Portland, Oregon-based law firm Kell, Alterman & Runstein, argues:

“Gatorade designs, develops, offers for sale, and sells nationwide, including the conduct of substantial business in this judicial district, products that are covered by at least claim 1 of the 6,244,467 patent, including a product identified as Gatorade G Series Prime 01 4 oz. pouch.”

Gatorade refused patent license offer

It adds: “On or about January 5, 2011, Lewit advised Gatorade of its infringement of the‘467 patent and offered, via letter to Ms. Robb O’Hagan, the chief marketing officer of Gatorade, to license the ‘467 patent to Gatorade.

“Gatorade refused to accept a license and continues to infringe the ‘467 patent.”

The infringement had caused – and is continuing to cause –“irreparable harm and injury” to Lewit, who “is entitled to recover damages adequate to compensate him for such infringement, but in no event less than a reasonable royalty”, it concludes.

Litter problem – and a solution

According to Lewit’s patent, which was submitted in the late 1990s, many pouches at the time were not adapted to be resealed once opened: “Since many of the products dispensed from single use containers are consumed by athletes while running, kayaking, cycling or the like, the separated corner or end region is often misplaced or otherwise lost thereby creating a litter problem.

“Accordingly, a need has existed in the art for a container and dispenser of the single use type that eliminates the above noted problems associated with the prior art.”

He added: “It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a container and dispenser of the single use type that will maintain the package in a single piece following opening of the package.”

Gatorade volumes up 9% in Q3

Speaking to analysts on a recent conference call, PepsiCo chief executive Indra Nooyi said Gatorade volumes were up 9% in the third quarter.

The growth had been driven by several factors, including a “refocus on the core athlete consumer, the brand restage to G, the introduction of G Series, our expansion to the FIT and Pro line, and our transition of go-to-market for small formats to DSD”, she claimed.

“The net result of our efforts in the quarter and year-to-date is that Gatorade has delivered the greatest absolute volume growth of any trademark in the US liquid refreshment beverage category.”

A Gatorade spokesperson said: "We are aware of the allegation and are taking appropriate action. Beyond this we cannot comment on this ongoing litigation."

Click here for details of Lewit’s patent.

Click here to read his complaint.

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