When Heinz launched its "Dip & Squeeze" ketchup packet, consumers were dipping their food with appreciation for this new form of packaging.
All Scott White could see was red.
White, an independent inventor, has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Heinz, alleging that the ketchup giant stole his idea when the company launched the Dip & Squeeze product.
Heinz VP of Corporate and Government affairs Michael Mullen told PlasticsToday that Heinz won a similar lawsuit earlier this summer.
"This is another frivolous lawsuit and we will aggressively defend our position and demonstrate that the allegations are groundless and without merit," he said. "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."
White told PlasticsToday he could not comment on this pending legal matter at this time.
"When the matter concludes, I will have more latitude to talk," he said.
John Leja, an attorney for White, said they don't typically make their clients available for interviews.
"We would not have filed the action if we believed Mr. White's claims lacked merit and/or that his patent was not valid," he said.
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In the lawsuit, White said the idea for the package stemmed from his frustration by the obstacles of neatly consuming fast food and its attendant condiments in the comfort of his vehicle.
Frustration turned into a "flash" of inspiration for White. He invented a condiment container called the CondiCup, for which he filed a patent application in 2005.
The lawsuit states that White saw an opportunity to market his invention to the company, and he emailed a Heinz executive and described his patent-pending CondiCup packaging design. The executive invited White to Heinz's headquarters in Pittsburgh to present to the company.
White's lawsuit states that 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," the lawsuit stated.
White heard nothing from Heinz during the next four years, but was surprised to discover in 2010 that Heinz was on the cusp of launching a substantial marketing push centered on "a familiar looking condiment container."
In 2011, Heinz launched the Dip & Squeeze to consumers claiming it would change the way Americans eat on-the-go forever. The Dip & Squeeze was the company's first ketchup packet makeover in 42 years.
"The response from consumers who have had the chance to experience the new Dip & Squeeze Ketchup package has been overwhelmingly positive," said John Bennett, Vice President of Marketing at Heinz, in a news release at the time. "People have been telling us that they love the convenience and functionality of the new package, and we are thrilled that it is now available to people nationwide."
The Heinz Dip & Squeeze gave consumers two options: a peel back lid for dipping, or the ability to