Patent Spat Over Dasani Bottle Caps Fizzles

     HOUSTON (CN) - A Swiss plastics manufacturer's invalid patent is not enough to challenge the production of Dasani water bottle caps, a federal judge ruled.
     At issue is a method that Indiana-based Berry Plastics Corp. uses to manufacture, sell and distribute bottle caps for Dasani, a water brand owned by Coca-Cola.
     Ineos USA LLC, a subsidiary of the Switzerland-based multinational chemicals company, claimed that the method infringed on its patent titled Polyethylene Composition and Method of Making Shaped Objects From Same.
     In a motion for summary judgment, Berry said Patent No. 6,846,863 should be declared invalid based on the existence of two similar patents, known as "prior art."
     Prior art refers to all publicly available information relevant to an invention's claims of originality.
     A patent is invalid if the "invention was patented, described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention," according to U.S. Patent Office data.
     The '863 patent pertains to a method of making bottle caps to prevent the bad odor and flavor imparted by the use of docosemide, a so-called slip agent, put in caps to make them easier to twist off a bottle.
     Ineos had purchased all rights to the method after the patent was issued to two inventors in January 2005.
     U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa sided with Berry Plastics on Tuesday, finding the '863 patent is invalid.
     Costa based his ruling on U.S. Patent No. 5,948,846, or the '846 patent, which was issued in September 1999.
     The '863 patent could not meet the patent-law requirement of novelty because "each and every element set forth in the asserted claims of the '863 patent" were included in the older '846 patent, according to the ruling.
     Profits for Ineos Group have dropped 29.5 percent to $23.3 billion since 2011, landing it near the bottom of Fortune's Global 500.
     The company's name was once short for Inspec Ethylene Oxide and Specialities.