European Patent Office dismisses Coca-Cola appeal
Maiwald secures a patent for PepsiCo for sweetened, acidic beverages with no bitter aftertaste.
Munich, 5 June 2019: Patentanwalts- und Rechtsanwalts-GmbH Maiwald has successfully handled appeal proceedings against Coca-Cola on behalf of PepsiCo at the European Patent Office (EPO). Coca-Cola had lodged an appeal against a first-instance decision in which the patent was maintained in amended form. This maintained patent deals with the protection of acidic drinks that are sweetened with the low-calorie sweeteners stevia and erythritol. These beverages have no bitter aftertaste when adjusted to a particular pH and a particular titratable acidity. A Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office has now dismissed the appeal following oral proceedings on 28 May 2019, thus definitively confirming the decision of the Opposition Division.
Achieving a technical effect relevant to patent protection
“Inventions in the food sector can be protected by patents in Europe. Among other things, it is crucial that a certain technical effect be achieved, which can consist in improving the taste, for example,” says patent attorney Andreas Ledl, PhD, Maiwald Munich, who handled the appeal proceedings for the patent proprietor together with his colleague, Thomas Friede, PhD. Ledl comments further: “The present decision confirms that features that are responsible for a given technical effect, like taste in the present case, can in principle also be defined functionally.” Coca-Cola was represented by Boehmert & Boehmert.
The patent aims to eliminate the bitter aftertaste that stevia sweeteners cause. This is done by adjusting the pH and titratable acidity in a well-defined range with an acid. This acid is described in the patent in addition to the sweeteners stevia and erythritol in the context of a beverage product claim. The patent is not limited to certain beverages and is relevant in particular for soft drinks such as colas.
Maiwald active with extensive mandate for PepsiCo
For more than two years, Maiwald has been representing PepsiCo in the present appeal proceedings against Coca-Cola. Maiwald acquired most of the PepsiCo portfolio in April 2017 that was pending at the European Patent Office (EPO). Since then, the Munich patent attorneys have also been responsible for the majority of regionalizations before the EPO from international PCT applications on behalf of PepsiCo. By means of Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications, applicants are seeking patent protection in several countries at the same time. In addition, Maiwald represents PepsiCo design applications before the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).