P&G sues J&J for patent infringement on tooth-whitening strips

Listerine WhiteningProcter & Gamble has filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and McNeil-PPC, Inc., the manufacturer and distributor of Listerine Whitening Quick Dissolving Strips, sold in the US, for infringement of two of its patents.

P&G, the largest consumer-products company in the US, has filed several suits against rivals over product infringement, and packaging and marketing disputes in the past year.

Johnson & Johnson launched Listerine teeth whitening strips last year billing them as being "quick-dissolving" within 5 to 10 minutes while being on the move, and therefore, more convenient to use than others on the market. It also said the product had shown strong performances in the last quarter.

P&G says it had created "a new product segment" with its hydrogen peroxide-based Crest Whitestrips in 2000, which has since been used by 30 million people and become an important part of its overall oral-care product portfolio.''
Johnson & Johnson's Listerine Whitening and other rivals have since then eaten into Crest's market share for the home-whitening product, from around 70 per cent over a year ago to 56 per cent. ACNielsen estimates the market for the segment at $240 million.

"P&G invests heavily in R&D to provide consumers with leading products. This technology and its intellectual property are important assets of the company," said Steve Jemison, P&G's chief legal officer. "We must protect our intellectual property."

The lawsuit seeks to stop Johnson & Johnson and McNeil-PPC, Inc. from making, selling, and importing any products that infringe P&G's patents on tooth-whitening products and also seeks damages.

The suit, filed today in the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, alleges that the Listerine Whitening Quick Dissolving Strips infringe key P&G patents related to the tooth whitening active ingredient and delivery systems.