Clorox's Ex-Design Co. Says Lysol Stole Packaging IP

By Lauren Berg
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Law360 (May 8, 2020, 9:35 PM EDT) -- A packaging design company filed suit Friday in Delaware federal court accusing the maker of Lysol Disinfecting Wipes of stealing its patented packaging technology that keeps the wipes moist, as the sought-after product flies off store shelves in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Perimeter Brand Packaging claims Reckitt Benckiser, which makes Lysol Disinfecting Wipes, copied its patented designs for a canister that keeps wipes moist.

Perimeter Brand Packaging LLC, which licensed patented packaging to the Clorox Co. until 2015, accused Lysol maker Reckitt Benckiser LLC of selling packaging designs that infringe its patents on methods for a moisture-retaining seal on an open-ended canister, according to the complaint.

"Since 2015, Clorox has been using moistened wipes packages that do not use Perimeter's patented technology," Perimeter said. "A comparison of Clorox wipes on the retail market before and after 2015 demonstrates Clorox's efforts to design around the patents-in-suit, which ... took years of research and development, in contrast with Reckitt Benckiser's apparent copying of the patented inventions."

Perimeter said it retained an independent research firm in 2018 to perform "high definition computed tomography" tests on the Lysol wipes packaging and found that RB was infringing Perimeter's patents. The complaint said a comparison of the licensed Clorox packaging and the unlicensed Lysol packaging showed that RB copied the design of Clorox's former packaging that used Perimeter's patented technology.

In April 2018, Perimeter sent RB a letter informing it of the results of the testing and offering to license the patents, according to the complaint. RB said in May it would get back to Perimeter by the following month, and when that deadline passed, Perimeter reached out again. This time, RB responded saying it wasn't interested in a license, Perimeter said.

"Because of the significant advantages that can be achieved through the use of the patented invention, Perimeter believes that the [patents] present significant commercial value for companies like Reckitt Benckiser," the complaint said. "Indeed, the market for packaged moistened wipes is substantial and growing."

Perimeter's suit seeks damages in compensation for RB's alleged patent infringement, as well as treble damages and an injunction preventing continued infringement.

As the novel coronavirus, which causes the deadly COVID-19, continues spreading around the world, disinfecting wipes like those sold by Clorox and Lysol have become so popular that they're disappearing from store shelves, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

Both Clorox and Lysol have seen sales of sanitizing wipes more than double in the past two months, according to marketing research firm Nielsen Corp. But the companies are having a hard time keeping up with the demand and might not be able to catch up until summer.

Representatives for the parties did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday evening.

The patents-in-suit are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,703,621 and 8,297,461.

Perimeter is represented by Timothy Devlin of Devlin Law Firm LLC.

Counsel information for RB was not immediately available.

The case is Perimeter Brand Packaging LLC v. Reckitt Benckiser LLC et al., case number 1:20-cv-00623, in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

--Editing by Breda Lund.

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