An Illinois federal court has granted summary judgment in favor of Kellogg North America Co. in a lawsuit disputing the patented design of resealable cookie packaging. Intercontinental Great Brands LLC v. Kellogg N. Am. Co., No. 13-0321 (N.D. Ill., order entered August 3, 2015). Intercontinental Great Brands (formerly Kraft Foods Global Brands) sued Kellogg and its affiliates alleging patent infringement, and Kellogg argued that the patent was invalid. Kellogg’s resealable container, which “was designed to ‘circumvent  the Kraft patent while maintaining similar properties,’” allows consumers to open a package of cookies then reattach the plastic flap to maintain freshness.
Kellogg argued that the patent was invalid because the asserted claims in the patent are obvious, and the court agreed. The standard of obviousness includes considerations of four factors: (i) the scope of prior art, (ii) differences between the prior art and the claim at issue, (iii) the level of ordinary skill and (iv) secondary considerations like commercial success, “long felt but unsolved needs” and the failure of others to create the art at issue. The court assessed previous incarnations of resealable packages, such as a 2002 patent for a package that keeps meat and cheese from drying out in a refrigerator and a 2001 system for keeping sushi, and found that the claims in Kraft’s patent are obvious as machinery updates to the prior art. Accordingly, the court granted Kellogg’s motion for summary judgment, invalidating the patent.