Chicago inventor accuses Heinz of stealing ketchup packet design idea in lawsuit

The patent wars have come to the ketchup business, with a Chicago inventor battling H.J. Heinz Co. over who came up with the idea for its "Dip & Squeeze" condiment packets.

In a patent-infringement suit filed earlier this month against the ketchup giant, Scott White claims he had a "flash of inspiration" after too many ketchup spills at the drive-through. He came up with the idea of a flexible condiment package that would fit in a car's drink holder and allow people to "choose between dipping finger foods and squeezing condiments onto sandwiches or other foods," he claims in his complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

Mr. White, whose day job is managing risk for the Chicago Housing Authority, invented such a container, filed for a patent in 2005, and trademarked the name "CondiCup." His complaint claims it was the basis for the Dip & Squeeze packets, which Heinz came out with in 2011.

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

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