Federal Jury Rules Heinz Didn’t Rip Off Man’s Idea For Single-Serve Ketchup Packets

heinzdipA Michigan food industry entrepreneur lost his fight against H.J. Heinz Co. this week, when a federal jury ruled yesterday that the company didn’t rip off his idea with its Dip & Squeeze single-serve ketchup packets.

The U.S. District Court jury in Pennsylvania ruled that while Heinz didn’t take advantage of the man’s idea for a ketchup packet that you could dip fries into at an opening at the top when it came out with its packets in 2010, it gave the man credit for presenting a new and novel idea for a single-serve ketchup packet, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Heinz welcomed the verdict, as it maintained that it came up with the Dip & Squeeze concept all on its own.

“Heinz firmly believed all along that [the plaintiff’s] claims were groundless, and we are pleased to have prevailed in this case,” said Michael Mullen, senior vice president of corporate & government affairs. “Heinz’s history of product and packaging innovations dates back to our founder, H.J. Heinz, and continues today as a cornerstone of the company.”

The man’s attorney and his client haven’t decided whether or not to appeal the decision, which marks the end of a five-year battle against Heinz. In 2010, the company debuted its multi-use ketchup packets, but in 2008, both sides agree, the man met with Heinz to discuss ways to improve on the traditional foil packets used in fast-food.

At that meeting, he presented his Little Dipper concept that allows diners to dip fries in an opening at the top of the packet. While the entrepreneur claims that afterward Heinz brushed him off and didn’t include his product in a 2008 focus group showing consumers different prototypes to land on the best one, Heinz says he didn’t come through with promised samples of the concept he’d originally pitched.

Heinz also argued that its European division had already been using a multi-use packet as far back as 2002, and had pitched ways to improve single-serve packets to Burger King in 2006. That project stalled due to costs, Heinz testimony claimed.

“He had an interesting idea,” Heinz’s attorney said of the entrepreneur, “He should go back and work on more interesting ideas and spend more time doing that than litigating against companies like Heinz.”

Michigan man loses battle against Heinz over Dip & Squeeze packets [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

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