Michigan Man Takes on Heinz in US Court in Patent Case

PITTSBURGH (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS) -

Trial began Monday in the patent-infringement case of a Michigan man who says H.J. Heinz stole his idea for its Dip & Squeeze condiment packets.

Attorneys for David Wawrzynski told jurors in U.S. District Court that the Pittsburgh food company listened to his ideas in 2008 and then stopped working with him.

Two years later, Heinz introduced the Dip & Squeeze packets with great fanfare.

Wawrzynski’s attorney, Eugene Boyle, told the jury that he heard a broadcaster talk about it on a talk show.

But Heinz attorneys laid out a scenario where they had developed PowerPoint presentations as far back as 2002 discussing ideas for a ketchup packet that could be used to dip fries in or squeeze ketchup on a burger.

Their “dunk and squirt” packet stalled in 2006 because it could not be produced at a reasonable cost. But attorneys said the idea was revived in 2008 when new staff took another look at the idea.

The trial in the court of U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab is meant to be the first part of a two-part process.

If the jury finds the Wawrzynski’s case has merit, a trial in June will determine damages.