Ball Challenges Crown’s Patents on Easier-Pouring Beer Can Lids

Ball Corp., a maker of containers for Miller beer and Pepsi-Cola, sued Crown Holdings Inc. to challenge its competitor’s patents for easier-pouring aluminum-can tops.

Ball won a court ruling Jan. 31 that an earlier version of its so-called can ends, the side from which people drink, don’t infringe Crown patents. Based on a Feb. 1 filing, Ball is now asking a federal court in Dayton, Ohio, for clearance of its newest cans, especially those designs for beer containers.

The dispute centers around can tops that use less metal and are marketed as being easier for beverage makers to fill and for consumers to pour. Crown, best known for inventing the bottle cap, has said the SuperEnd cans that it began selling in 2000 reduce metal use by 10 percent. More than 300 billion SuperEnd beverage ends have been produced, Michael Dunleavy, a spokesman for Philadelphia-based Crown, said today.

Dunleavy said the company won’t comment on the litigation.

Ball claims Crown has embarked on an almost decade-long legal effort against packaging competitors, including claims against Anheuser-Busch InBev NV and London-based Rexam Plc.

The patents “have been the subject of extensive and generally unsuccessful litigation by Crown,” Broomfield, Colorado-based Ball said in the complaint.

The case is Ball Metal Beverage Container Corp. v. Crown Packaging Technology Inc., 12cv33, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio (Dayton).

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