In Quinn Packaging v Linpac Packaging & R. Færch Plast, the English Intellectual Property Enterprise Court has found two patents for plastic food packaging invalid.

The patents related to containers typically used by supermarkets for fruits, vegetables, meat and fish. The first involved the introduction of a flange to the packaging so that polyethylene terephthalate (PET) film could be applied instead of a more costly and environmentally damaging three layer material, both allowing for the preservation of the foodstuff without contamination. The second patent again proposed the introduction of a flange but instead advocated the application of a multi-layered material (with each layer containing at least 85% amorphous polyethylene terephthalate (APET)).

Quinn cited one piece of prior art, an Australian patent referred to as Ono. The court held that there was only one question to answer: “... would a skilled person who read Ono in January 2010 and/or November 2011, knowing of the need for a better sealing solution for plastic food trays, have recognised that Ono provided the answer: the idea of creating a flange around the top periphery of the container and putting a suitable adhesive on it?”.

Linpac Packaging and R. Færch Plast’s case was that “... the long felt want proved just how clever the idea of the peripheral flange was in 2010 and 2011 and that Ono would have led the skilled person away from it. Quinn [Packaging{ argued that the skilled person, fully aware of the gap in the market, would have grasped immediately that Ono provided the answer.” The court found for Quinn Packaging.

Full details of the case are available at Bailii:

READ FULL BAILII DECISION