Nestle accuses Mead Johnson of U.S. patent infringement on bottle design used by both companies for their nutritional products, says Mead supplying same bottle to private-label products competing with Nestle's Boost brand

LOS ANGELES , January 31, 2012 () –

Nestle Healthcare Nutrition and Gerber Products Co. have jointly accused Mead Johnson & Co. LLC of infringing on a patent for a bottle design used by both companies to package their nutritional products, reported BeverageDaily.com on Jan. 30.

In a complaint filed last week in federal court in Delaware, Nestle charges infringement of design patent #D447,421, unfair competition and trade dress infringement, and demands a jury trial, damages and that Mead Johnson immediately cease making the bottles.

Mead Johnson was granted a license to use the ‘421 patent bottle design only to supply Nestle’s Boost products. However, since September 2011, Mead Johnson has been using the design to make bottles for products that compete with Boost, BeverageDaily.com reported.

The products which are accused of being packaged in the patented bottle design include private-label nutritional drinks for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Kroger Co. and Sam’s Club, claims Nestle and Gerber.

The infringing product bottle is made by Mead Johnson on the same line it uses to manufacture the Boost bottle, and each is stamped with the patent number ‘421, according to the filing, reported BeverageDaily.com.

Nestle accuses Mead Johnson of violating the Lanham Act, the federal trademark law, because the identical bottle designs might confuse consumers about the connection between Mead Johnson and Nestle.

Nestle also claims that it lost the federal women, infants and children (WIC) nutritional supplementation program with the New England and Tribal Organizations (NEATO), which includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, the Cherokee Nation and Seneca National tribal areas,  because of Mead Johnson’s “willful, fraudulent and malicious” infringement of the ‘421 patent, BeverageDaily.com reported.

Mead Johnson recently won the contract to supply infant formula under the WIC program to NEATO.

The ‘421 patent, which was assigned initially to Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. in 2001 and eventually reassigned to Nestle Healthcare Nutrition, was licensed for use by Mead Johnson in 2007 solely to supply Nestle’s Boost range of products, claims Nestle.

A Mead Johnson spokesperson said that the company does not comment on active litigation.

The primary source of this article is BeverageDaily.com, Montpellier, France, on Jan. 30, 2012.

 

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