By Erin Geiger Smith
A battle for snack supremacy isn’t being fought over who makes the best shortbread cookies, but instead over the packaging they come in.
Kraft Foods Global Brands, a subsidiary of Mondelez International (MDLZ), sued Kellog’s (K) North American unit on Wednesday claiming the rival food maker is improperly using Kraft’s patented technology to keep Keebler and Sandies cookies fresh.
The Kellogg cookies are packaged in a resealable food packaging design that the Kraft maintains is too much like their design, “Snack ‘n Seal,” according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
Keebler Company, which is owned by Kellogg, is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Kellogg did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Michael Mitchell, a spokesman for Mondelez, declined to comment.
Kraft Foods Global Brands, the intellectual property holding company for Mondelez, is seeking damages as well as a permanent injunction barring Kellogg from infringing the patent.
Mondelez, which sells Nutter Butter and Chips Ahoy cookies, is the snack company that kept the remaining Kraft businesses after it spun-off of its North American grocery business as Kraft Foods Group Inc. (KRFT) in October
A Snack Pack of Litigants
This is not the only food container lawsuit currently pending in the Chicago federal court.
In August 2012, an inventor sued H.J. Heinz Company claiming the ketchup company’s “Dip Squeeze” product violated a patent that he holds on packaging that allows consumers to choose between dipping or squeezing condiments onto foods.
Heinz has denied the allegations.
The Global Brands case is: Kraft Foods Global Brands LLC v. Kellogg North America Company, et al, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, No. 13-00321.