Five months after a federal judge nullified a design patent for an injection molded car cup, WNA Cups Illustrated Inc. is coming out with its own version. By December, the company will be molding 32- and 44-ounce plastic car cups, called the Traveler, at its Lancaster, Texas, plant, said CI President Tom Swan. Come January, CI will boost cup capacity at that plant, adding two 500-ton Husky injection presses and an eight-color printer, to accommodate both the Traveler and a growing souvenir cup business, he said.
``We started having too many tools and not enough machines,'' Swan said. ``With the addition of the new Travelers, we're adding [capacity] to take care of that volume.''
The equipment represents an investment of more than $2 million, according to Mike Evans, president and chief executive of CI's parent, Waddington North America Inc. based in Covington, Ky.
In all, five WNA companies make plastic products for the food-service industry, including another Texas cup maker, WNA Carthage Inc. of Longview.
Carthage also is entering the car cup business, with a 32-ounce thermoformed plastic model, Swan said. Both companies waited until the lawsuits launched last year by Berry Sterling Corp. against three cup competitors were resolved, he said. Berry holds a patent on large-sized injection molded plastic car cups, but on April 25 an Alexandria, Va., federal court ruled that patent invalid. Berry is appealing the decision.
Meanwhile the ruling cleared the way for CI's high density polyethylene car cup, whose slimmer shape fits in more cars, Swan said. CI will sell the cups mainly to convenience stores and fast-food restaurants.
``We didn't do anything until the lawsuit was settled and it was legal for us to go out and make the cup. We're just following the market. The market's already there. We're kind of the last kid on the block with this cup,'' he said recently by telephone.
Neither Swan nor Evans would disclose CI's sales.
WNA is the U.S.-based arm of John Waddington plc of Leeds, England.