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Ketchup CondiCup leads to legal mess

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One doesn’t naturally think of “risk manager” “inventor” and “ketchup” in the same thought, but those three apparently disparate terms were all elements in a federal court case last week.

According to news reports, Scott White, whose day job is director of risk management for the Chicago Housing Authority, had been frustrated by fast food customers’ inability to dip their fries in ketchup while driving, so he developed the “CondiCup,” a condiment cup designed to fit into car cup holders.

Mr. White obtained a patent for his idea in 2005. He then filed a patent infringement suit against H.J. Heinz Co., which is now Kraft Heinz Co., in 2012, claiming it had appropriated his idea.

In June, 2013, the examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office held that many of Mr. White’s claims were too obvious to be patentable and cancelled his patent.

Mr. White appealed and on Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the patent’s office decision to cancel Mr. White’s patent, in a highly technical ruling.

Mr. White’s patent infringement case is stayed pending a final decision.

Mr. White, though, has still not given up. “It’s a bump in the road, but I’m not done fighting this fight,” he said, according to the Chicago Tribune newspaper.