Coffee war continues as P&G files another lawsuit against Kraft

Posted by James Ferre on 24th September 2008

The Procter & Gamble Company has filed a patent lawsuit against Kraft Foods Inc., manufacturer of the Maxwell House Coffee brand.

The lawsuit, filed in the United States Federal District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in Cincinnati, alleges that the new four-pound plastic container for Maxwell House coffee, now being introduced in America, infringes key Procter & Gamble patents on Folgers Coffee.

In 2003, P&G introduced Folgers Coffee in a “consumer-preferred plastic container”. This innovation has grown the Folgers business for the past five years, according to P&G.

“We made large investments to overcome the technical challenges in making a lightweight plastic container that can withstand the pressure changes that occur between the factory and the consumer’s home,” reported Steve Jemison, P&G chief legal officer. “Many innovations in this container are covered by P&G patents, which we believe Maxwell House has infringed. We must protect our intellectual property.”

The lawsuit seeks to stop Kraft Foods from selling the Maxwell House Coffee package and also seeks damages.

A Kraft spokeswoman has advised that Kraft will “vigorously defend” themselves against the claim adding that, “Kraft does not infringe the valid patent rights of others.”

The lawsuit is not the first time P&G have been upset with Kraft, with a similar patent lawsuit filed 13 months ago alleging Kraft had violated patents on plastic coffee containers. That case has yet to be resolved.

Folgers and Maxwell House are the two leading coffee brands in the United States but have been under greater pressure in recent times as the popularity of gourmet coffee and coffee shops have stunted growth.

P&G announced earlier this year that they would be selling the Folgers brand to J.M. Smucker for $3 billion, but that deal is yet to be finalised.