Chicago Man Sues Heinz, Says It Stole His Patent for Ketchup Packets

Sign of the Times: New Ketchup Packets

A Heinz Dip & Squeeze tomato ketchup package. (Credit: H.J. Heinz Co./AP Photo)

A Chicago man has filed a patent infringement complaint against H.J. Heinz Co., alleging the company 's "Dip & Squeeze" ketchup packet is a ripoff of his invention.

In a lawsuit, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, Scott White says he had a "flash of inspiration" for a package "that would be flexible, allowing customers to choose between dipping finger foods and squeezing condiments on to sandwiches or other foods."

That package, says the suit, is essentially the same as what Heinz is using. His version, says his complaint, is called the "CondiCup." The suit was filed in August in federal court in Chicago.

Heinz rejects White's claims.

"Heinz won a similar lawsuit earlier this summer," Michael Mullen, vice president of corporate and government affairs at Heinz, wrote in a statement to ABC News. "This is another frivolous lawsuit and we will aggressively defend our position and demonstrate that the allegations are groundless and without merit."

"As a leader in proprietary packaging innovation for more than a century, Heinz worked for years to develop its patented dual-function Dip & Squeeze package," he said.

White's suit says that in 2006, he emailed an executive at Heinz after learning about packaging problems the company was having. According to the suit, White "instantly recognized an opportunity to market his invention to a potential client in need of a new condiment container."

White's suit says he shared the CondiCup idea with Heinz, but instead of dealing fairly with him, Heinz cut him out. "The behemoth international company could not be bothered to contract with a start-up American small business," says the lawsuit.

Heinz, widely known for its ketchup, relish and other condiments, said the company spent three years working on its "Dip & Squeeze" packets, according to the Journal.

Scott White's attorney declined to put ABC News in touch with him.

"We would not have filed the action if we believed Mr. White's claims lacked merit and/or that his patent was not valid," wrote John A. Leja, an attorney for White, in a statement to ABC News.

"The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has already weighed in on this and issued the patent to Mr. White. That is significant. We seek to enforce it against those who are infringing. We believe Heinz to be infringing. "

White is seeking a trial by jury and reasonable compensation for patent infringement

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...