Alleging Infringement of Container Patent, Mead Johnson Sues Nestle and Gerber

Evansville, IN – Through its patent attorneys, Mead Johnson Nutrition Co., of Glenview, Illinois, has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Nestle S.A. of Switzerland; Nestle USA Inc. of Glendale,Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Patentphoto.jpg California; and Gerber Products Co. d/b/a/ Nestle Infant Nutrition of Florham Park, New Jersey. The complaint alleges infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7,040,500, which is titled “Container and Scoop Arrangement.” The ‘500 patent is directed to a container for housing granulated products which includes a recessed base and, for easy product removal, a circumferential channel capable of receiving a scoop.

The patent lawyers for the plaintiff Mead Johnson point to two Internet postings, both made in March of 2011, announcing Gerber’s EASYSCOOP™ plastic packaging and the new packaging to be used for Gerber’s GOOD START® infant formula. Alleging that the EASYSCOOP™Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Gerberogoto.jpg packaging is currently in commerce and directly infringes the ‘500 patent, the plaintiff also includes in its complaint counts claiming that the defendants have induced infringement by third-parties through offering the GOOD START® product in the EASYSCOOP™ container for sale, selling it, and advertising it to retailers and consumers. The plaintiff seeks a permanent injunction against the defendants as well as a tripling of damages based on alleged willful infringement.

Practice Tip:  U.S. patent law provides that making, using, selling, offering to sell, or importing a patented invention is direct patent infringement.  In addition, 35 U.S.C. § 271(b) provides that “[w]hoever actively induces infringement of a patent shall be liable as an infringer.”  Thus, a holder of a method patent could have an inducement claim against a product manufacturer if the patent is infringed by consumers using the manufacturer’s product.  Under the latest precedent of the Federal Circuit (the federal appeals court with jurisdiction over appeals from patent trials and Patent Office proceedings), the standard for inducing patent infringement requires a showing of actual knowledge of a patent or “willful blindness” to the existence of one.

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This case is assigned to Chief Judge Richard L. Young and Magistrate Judge William G. Hussmann of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, and given Case No. 3:11-cv-00100-RLY-WGH

Complaint


Filed: August 15, 2011 as 3:2011cv00100

Updated: August 16, 2011 01:33:52

Plaintiff: MEAD JOHNSON NUTRITION COMPANY

Defendants: GERBER PRODUCTS COMPANY, NESTLE S.A. and NESTLE USA INCORPORATED

Presiding Judge: Richard L. Young

Cause Of Action: Patent Infringement

Court: Seventh Circuit > Indiana > Southern District Court

Type: Intellectual Property > Patent

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