A Lawsuit in Your Cup: P&G Sues Kraft Over Maxwell House Can

Proctor and Gamble (PG), parent company of Folgers Coffee brand, has filed a lawsuit against Maxwell-House-maker Kraft Foods (KFT) over the shape and design of its updated coffee can.

The Cincinnati, Ohio-based P&G, known for its diverse household products including laundry detergent, toothpaste and shaving products, filed the lawsuit in the US District Court for Northern California. The suit claims Kraft’s Maxwell House brand violated numerous patents covering the plastic design of the red Folgers Coffee container that was released in 2003.

"Many innovations in this [Maxwell House] container are covered by P&G patents, which we believe Maxwell House has infringed,” said Jim Johnson, P&G chief legal officer, in a statement. “We must protect our intellectual property."

The lawsuit seeks to stop Kraft Foods from selling products packaged in the new Maxwell House coffee container and it also seeks unspecified damages. The contested containers first hit store shelves last month, according to a Kraft representative.

Kraft Foods officials said the company had not had a chance to review the court filings fully and could not comment further, but said they believed Maxwell House was not in violation of any patents.

“I can tell you that Kraft respects valid patent rights of others and abides by all U.S. patent laws," said Kraft Foods spokeswoman Renee Zahery in a statement.