Not a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

Liqui-Box Corp. v. Scholle IPN Corp.

United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

March 27, 2020, Decided; March 27, 2020, Filed

No. 19 cv 4069

Opinion

MEMORANDUM ORDER AND OPINION

In 2016, Defendant Kevin Bergenthun left his longtime employment with Plaintiff Liqui-Box Corporation where he had worked in research and development and sales. Later that same year, Bergenthun began working for Defendants Scholle IPN Corporation and Scholle IPN Packaging, Inc. (collectively "Scholle Defendants"), competitors of Plaintiff's, and allegedly began to use confidential information related to Liqui-Box's patents to develop a competing product. Bergenthun also allegedly began to contact Liqui-Box's customers to solicit their business for Scholle in a way [*3]  that Plaintiff alleges interfered with its contracts and customer relationships. Relevant here, Plaintiff alleges that the Scholle Defendants infringed one of its patents (Count I), and that all Defendants conspired to commit various tortious acts (Count IX). Defendants jointly move to dismiss the patent infringement and civil conspiracy counts of Plaintiff's amended complaint for failure to state a claim [27]. For the following reasons, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Liqui-Box designs, develops, and manufactures bag-in-box and flexible liquid packaging for use in the beverage industry. (Am. Compl. [24] ¶¶ 15, 18.) One of Liqui-Box's products is a bag or pouch fitted with a spout, called a fitment,1 that is sold to beverage producers to hold and dispense liquids. (Id. ¶ 16.) Of those fitment products, one of Liqui-Box's most popular is the DET fitment, which has near-universal compatibility with the various connectors used by the beverage industry to dispense liquids. (Id. ¶¶ 19-20.) Liqui-Box also developed the Encore fitment specifically for its customer, Pepsi. (Id. ¶ 21.) The DET fitment is covered by U.S. Patent No. 7,628,299 ("the '299 Patent"), titled "Threaded Spout" and issued in [*4]  December 2009. (Id. ¶ 24; Patent Text, Ex. 1 to Am. Compl.) Liqui-Box is the sole owner of all right, title, and interest in the '299 Patent. (Am. Compl. ¶ 25.) Not disclosed in the patent is other information—confidential and proprietary technical and engineering data—which Plaintiff contends are trade secrets, including the durable resin blend used to manufacture fitments, the manufacturing and assembly process, and production capabilities. (Id. ¶ 28.) Plaintiff also identifies confidential financial and business information as trade secrets, including sales strategies, product pricing, profit margins, customer sales volumes, and contract terms with customers. (Id. ¶ 29.)

Defendant Bergenthun worked at Liqui-Box from 1999 to 2016, first in roles in research and development, and later in sales. (Id. ¶ 33.) At some point, Bergenthun signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement prohibiting him from divulging to others Liqui-Box's confidential information or trade secrets, and Liqui-Box alleges that it has policies prohibiting its employees from disclosing or using Liqui-Box's confidential or proprietary information outside of their employment. (Id. ¶¶ 38-40.) During his time at Liqui-Box, Bergenthun was involved [*5]  in the development and production of the DET and Encore fitments, and as a result, gained familiarity with some of Liqui-Box's confidential information. (Id. ¶ 35.) In his sales role, Bergenthun developed close relationships with many of Liqui-Box's customers, such as Pepsi, and had access to Liqui-Box's confidential sales information. (Id. ¶ 37.)

Read The Full CaseNot a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.

2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53467 *; 2020 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 10267

LIQUI-BOX CORP., Plaintiff, v. SCHOLLE IPN CORP., SCHOLLE IPN PACKAGING, INC., and KEVIN BERGENTHUN, Defendants.

CORE TERMS

patent, infringement, fitment, threads, geometries, alleges, motion to dismiss, conspiracy, conspire, spout, estoppel, patent infringement, literally, opposing, confidential information, doctrine of equivalents, customers, surface, trade secret, dispensing, external, Packaging, invention, beverage, patentee, chart, patent application, competitors, connector, products