The Great Coffee Can Patent War, Starring Kraft and Procter & Gamble

If you drink Folgers or Maxwell House, the coffee can on your shelf is the subject of a patent war between Kraft and Procter & Gamble. Both are accusing the other of stealing the innovative technology used to contain your precious morning fuel in a resealable plastic can that can “withstand the pressure changes that occur between the factory and the consumer’s home.”

Kraft is seeking unspecified damages. The Northfield, Ill.-based company also wants P&G to stop sales of the Folger’s plastic coffee container, saying Kraft will be harmed if those sales continue.

P&G responded on Wednesday with a suit of its own in the same court, spokesman Bryan Brown said. The suit alleges containers Kraft uses for Maxwell House violate one of P&G’s patents. The suit likewise seeks unspecified damages and asks that a judge rule to prevent Kraft from using P&G’s patents.

The suits follow one filed by P&G against Kraft on Aug. 27 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco. In that case, Cincinnati-based P&G sought a similar patent infringement ruling involving a different patent that it alleges Kraft uses in plastic containers for Maxwell House.

That case also sought unspecified damages and an injunction to prevent Kraft from selling the coffee in the packaging.

So what is the magic behind patent number 7,169,418?

A fresh packaging system for roast and ground coffee having a top load capacity of at least about 16 pounds (7.3 Kg) comprising a container with a closed bottom, an open top, and a body enclosing a perimeter between the bottom and the top. A protuberance is continuously disposed around the perimeter of the body proximate to the top and forms a ridge external to the body. A flexible closure is removeably attached and sealed to the protuberance so that the closure seals the interior volume of the container. The container bottom and container body are constructed from a material having a tensile modulus number ranging from at least about 35,000 to at least about 650,000 pounds per square inch (at least about 2,381 to at least about 44,230 atm).

Translation: It’s a plastic coffee can with a resealable top.

Kraft, P&G sue over coffee cans [AP]
Packaging system to provide fresh packed coffee [Google Patents]