The world’s leading chewing gum company, Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., recently filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court in Chicago, Illinois against a small New Jersey company, GumRunners, LLC. The lawsuit alleges that GumRunners’ Jolt Caffeine Energy Gum infringes on a patent owned by Wrigley and has caused irreparable damage to Wrigley. Although Wrigley does not sell a “caffeine-based” chewing gum, the lawsuit asks the court to stop GumRunners from continuing to sell its gum in addition to an undisclosed amount of monetary damages.
Wrigley received a patent in 2002 for caffeine-coated gum that controls the release of the stimulant. Later that same year, GumRunners introduced its caffeine pellet gum that comes in two flavors. Wrigley warned GumRunners about the alleged infringement and brought suit soon thereafter. Wrigley voluntarily dismissed the suit when GumRunners agreed to supply Wrigley with information pertaining to its Jolt Gum. Despite receiving information from GumRunners, Wrigley brought suit again alleging patent infringement.
Despite the fact that Wrigley is not using the patent, it is common for companies to turn to courts to safeguard their ideas, even if they never turn into a marketable product. Wrigley’s patents serve to protect the company from encroachment by competitors and Wrigley has shown its willingness to enforce them by filing suits against competitors such as confectioner Cadbury Adams USA, LLC for allegedly copying parts of its recipe for minty gum.
Wrigley owns numerous other unusual patents including chewing gum that delivers sildenafil citrate (the active ingredient found in ViagraTM) and a chewing gum directed towards environmentalists that is biodegradable. Neither of those gums have been released into the marketplace.
For more information on intellectual property and infringement claims, please contact Rakesh M. Amin at 312.466.1033 or [email protected].