Portola Packaging Inc., a manufacturer of plastic closures, bottles and equipment for the dairy, juice and water industries, is involved in two patent infringement cases with firms headquartered in New Castle, Pa.
Both cases, which were filed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, commenced after Portola wrote letters to competitors alleging that they were infringing on closure patents.
In each case, the competitors are seeking a declaration that they are not infringing on Portola's patents.
In one case, the court recently overturned a summary judgment that had favored San Jose, Calif.-based Portola. That suit originally was filed Dec. 21, 1995 by International Plastics and Equipment Corp. of New Castle.
According to Jerry Iwanejko, a Pittsburgh-based lawyer who represents IPEC, the suit relates to a tamper-evident, push-pull closure that is used in the sport-drink and water industries.
Portola is seeking monetary damages, plus a permanent injunction against the manufacture and sale of tamper-evident push-pull plastic closures with reusable tamper-evident push-pull pour spouts.
IPEC is seeking a declaration that it is not infringing on Portola's patent, that the patent is not valid, and that Portola committed antitrust violations for its misuse of the patent.
The reversal of the summary judgment means the case eventually will go to trial.
In a separate case, Portola is involved in a patent infringement lawsuit with Consumer Cap Corp. of New Castle. That lawsuit was filed March 14, 1996.
Portola claims Consumer Cap infringes Portola's patent relating to a push-on, screw-off, tamper-evident bottle cap used in the dairy industry. Consumer Cap calls its product the Alpha Cap.
Like the other suit, Portola is seeking a permanent injunction against further manufacture of the cap as well as damages, said Dan Luch, vice president of research and development at Portola.
Consumer Cap, which also is represented by Iwanejko, wants the court to rule that Consumer Cap is not liable for patent infringement; that Portola's patent be declared invalid and therefore cannot be infringed upon; and that the court impose liability against Portola for antitrust violations.
No trial date has been set.
Portola has 14 facilities worldwide, employs 1,000 and reported 1998 sales of $180 million.