Cola War Heads to Atlanta Court

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Cola War Heads to Atlanta Court

ATLANTA -- Coca-Cola Co. is suing PepsiCo Inc., claiming that Pepsi has infringed on its patented system for dispensing soft drinks in fountain machines, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Coke has been in court before over the "bag-in-box" concept that the company patented in the mid-1980s. In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, Coke claims that Pepsi and a supplier, Rapak of Romeoville, Ill., are rolling out a third product that infringes on Coke's patents.

Coca-Cola won a previous infringement complaint against a Pepsi supplier, Liqui-Box, last year. Since then, the suit claims, Pepsi and Rapak have developed two more bag-in-box devices.

Bag-in-box is a hidden but important part of fountain operations in the United States, the report said. A plastic bag holds syrup for soft drinks, and it is held inside a protective box. It's less cumbersome than traditional stainless steel containers, although those are still in use as well.

According to the suit, Coke's bag-in-box design debuted in the 1980s and succeeded partly because it can be emptied completely, instead of leaving valuable syrup behind. "Pepsi has been doggedly determined to unfairly and unlawfully deny Coca-Cola these advantages," the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit says Pepsi has started a nationwide rollout of its latest bag-in-box device, called the "New Evacubag BIB."

Pepsi spokesman Larry Jabbonsky declined to comment about the pending lawsuit, which seeks an unspecified amount of monetary damages.

Coke and Pepsi are locked in a constant battle for business in the lucrative fountain channel, which includes restaurants, convenience stores and many other places. Coke holds about 60 percent of the market, according to the report.