A Pennsylvania federal court has denied H.J. Heinz Co.’s motion for summary judgment in a lawsuit alleging that the company stole the idea for the “Dip & Squeeze” ketchup packet. Wawrzynski v. H.J. Heinz Co., No. 11-1098 (W.D. Penn., order entered January 7, 2015). The plaintiff asserts that he met with the company in 2008 and presented the idea for the dual-opening packet, but they never reached a deal; Heinz later released its Dip & Squeeze packet, which the plaintiff argues was too similar to his concept. The court noted that although Heinz presented evidence showing that it was actively developing a dual-function condiment container before meeting with the plaintiff, the plaintiff had also shown that Heinz had been unsuccessful in creating or marketing a feasible container. “Given the evidence presented by both parties to this lawsuit,” the court concluded, “whether either or both of Plaintiff’s ideas were novel and concrete are questions for the jury.” The court further found that the plaintiff’s claims of unjust enrichment and breach of contract hinged on the same issue. Additional details on the Third Circuit’s revival of the case appear in Issue 531 of this Update.


Issue 552

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.