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Business litigation: H.J. Heinz Co. accused of patent violation

When entrepreneurs in Georgia and other states invent or design products that are not yet patented by other parties, they may pursue a patent on the particular invention or design. If a patent is obtained, the owner will be able to exclude others from making, selling or using the invention without permission. If another party infringes on the patent, the patent holder may take legal action, and an experienced business litigation attorney may guide him or her through the legal proceedings.

H.J. Heinz Co. was recently sued by an entrepreneur who alleges it stole his invention in creating the "Dip & Squeeze" ketchup packets. The plaintiff asserts that he designed and patented a dual-purpose packet in 1997 and called it the "Little Dipper". It can be squeezed or used as a small container for dipping. He says he communicated with a previous Heinz CEO in March of 2008 and met with representatives of the company some months later, but, apparently, no business agreement was reached.

In February 2010, Heinz introduced a similar ketchup packet called "Dip & Squeeze". Heinz admits there was a meeting between company officials and the plaintiff but denies copying his design. The outcome of this trial is unknown, but, if it is found that Heinz used the entrepreneur's ideas in its design, another hearing will be scheduled to determine the plaintiff's financial losses and how much Heinz will have to pay him.

Georgia entrepreneurs who suspect that other enterprises have infringed on their patents may benefit from retaining the services of experienced attorneys who focus on business litigation. After assessing the details of claims, lawyers will provide the necessary information regarding the advantages and risks related to settlement before trial as opposed to taking a claim to trial. Regardless of the strategy is chosen, attorneys will represent their clients in negotiations or litigation while protecting their interests.

Source: consumerist.com, "Entrepreneur Claims Heinz Copied His Idea With "Dip & Squeeze" Ketchup Packets", Mary Beth, March 31, 2015

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