Lawsuit on can-design patent revived against Anheuser-Busch

December 24, 2004|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court yesterday revived a patent suit Crown Holdings Inc. filed against Anheuser-Busch Cos., the world's biggest beer maker, over aluminum can lids.

Crown Holdings, maker of about one-fifth of the world's beverage cans, claims that the "Lid of the Future" by Anheuser-Busch and its Metal Container Corp. unit infringes on a patent owned by Crown and used for its "SuperEnd" beverage can.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said U.S. District Judge John Shabaz had wrongly defined a term in the Crown patent and it remanded the case for further review.

"While we are disappointed in the ruling, we believe that ultimately the court will rule that our lid does not infringe on Crown's patents for can lids," Anheuser-Busch said in a statement.

The dispute centers on efforts in the can industry to save metal costs with a new beverage can end that uses less metal while maintaining its strength and allowing for stacking.

Philadelphia-based Crown Holdings claimed Anheuser-Busch was using its technology without permission.

The appeals court did not reinstate a patent-infringement claim that St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch made against Crown Holdings. Shabaz, in District Court in Madison, Wis., ruled against both companies and dismissed the case.

Officials with Crown Holdings didn't immediately return messages seeking comment.

In March 2003, Crown Holdings Chief Executive Officer John Conway called SuperEnd the "new global benchmark for beverage ends," while Anheuser-Busch said its Lid of the Future was more cost-effective and energy-efficient.

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