The Korea Herald

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Korean inventor considers patent suit against Miller

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Published : Aug. 4, 2011 - 19:18

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A Korean inventor is considering a lawsuit against MillerCoors, claiming that the new Miller Lite bottle has copied his patented design, industry sources said Thursday.

The Chicago-based brewing company launched last year the Vortex bottle, which has grooves on the inside of the neck. The company explained the spiral inside allows the beer’s “taste to flow right out.”

According to Miller, the Vortex bottle was developed in partnership with Owens-Illinois, a leading manufacturer of packaging products. The design had won Bronze International Design Excellence Award.
New Vortex bottle from Miller Lite (left) and a Korean inventor’s patented design “A Bottle New Vortex bottle from Miller Lite (left) and a Korean inventor’s patented design “A Bottle"

However, the 33-year-old inventor, identified only by his surname Chung, said that he had already acquired a patent for his design titled “A Bottle,” which he claimed is very similar with the new Miller bottle, earlier in 2009.

Data from Korea Institute of Patent Information also showed Chung’s patent application was made in October 2009.

He added that talks to acquire a U.S. patent were underway, saying his patent right is currently owned by I.P. Development Ltd., a Seoul-based company.

“After finding that the Vortex bottle is very similar to my invention, I contacted with the lawyers for Miller and Owens-Illinois for potential sales of my patent right. The talks, however, discontinued and now I have lost contact with them,” Chung said in an interview.

“Selling Miller Lite here is clearly a violation of my patent right. If they do not resume negotiations, I’m considering filing a lawsuit against the stakeholders including the head office of Miller, its Korean branch and Owens.”

About Chung’s claims, however, the head office of Miller allegedly declined to comment on the issue, saying legal disputes were still underway. The Korean office could not be reached.

MillerCoors is a joint venture between SABMiller and Molson Coors Brewing Company, established in October 2007. Its brands include Miller Lite, Miller High Life, Miller Genuine Draft, Coors, Coors Light, Molson Canadian and Blue Moon in the United States.

By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)