P&G sues Coca-Cola over calcium fortification

Related tags Coca-cola

Procter & Gamble is to sue soft drinks giant Coca-Cola over an
alleged patent infringement relating to the fortification of juice
with calcium.

Consumer products giant Procter & Gamble has filed a lawsuit against Coca-Cola to stop the soft drink maker and former joint venture partner from allegedly infringing on patented technology that adds calcium to fruit juices.

Cincinnati-based P&G, which makes Tide detergent, Pringles chips and other popular consumer products, said Coca-Cola's Minute Maid juice division had used exclusively licensed P&G technology in its Minute Maid Premium Calcium Rich Home Squeezed Style Orange Juice and Minute Maid Premium Calcium Original Orange Juice drinks.

The lawsuit, which was filed in US Federal District Court in Cincinnati, contends that the technology was exclusively licensed to Tropicana Products, a division of Coca-Cola rival PepsiCo.

P&G is seeking an injunction to stop the alleged violation of its patent, which has been in force since 1988. The consumer products firm also is demanding undisclosed monetary damages from Coca-Cola.

"P&G is firmly committed to protecting its proprietary technologies and will continue to take action to protect those technologies,"​ Mike Griffith, president of P&G's global beverages division, said in a statement.

The suit came less than a year after Atlanta-based Coca-Cola decided not to go forward with a controversial plan to fold its Minute Maid juice division into a $4-billion joint venture with P&G's Sunny Delight juice drink and Pringles products.

Many analysts had dismissed the original deal, which would have placed Coca-Cola's Minute Maid juices, Hi-C, Five Alive and Fruitopia drinks into the new stand-alone company, as a dismal idea for Coca-Cola.

"We think the suit is totally without merit,"​ said Dan Schafer, a spokesman for Minute Maid. "We have been producing our calcium-fortified orange juice since 1987 and we make it today the same way we made it in 1987."

Schafer added that Coca-Cola, which has had its own patent for the production of calcium-fortified juices since 1989, used different ingredients to produce the juices.

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