Brooks Kushman filed two patent infringement actions in Atlanta and counterclaimed for infringement in California on behalf of B & H Manufacturing Company on patents relating to bottle labeling machinery technology. The first lawsuit was tried before a jury in Atlanta and resulted in a jury award of $36.2 Million dollars. The controversy was resolved during the appellate process by a settlement agreement including a continuing license. The other two cases were settled before trial and resulted in substantial settlements that included patent licensing agreements.
The trial in Atlanta spanned 10 days during which evidence was proffered as to infringement, validity, and reasonable royalty damages based upon the use of infringing machines to label bottles for soft drinks. The technique for labeling bottles was referred to as “wrap shrink labeling” because the bottles were first wrapped by the label and then heated to shrink the label over the contours of the bottles. A key infringement issue was whether the accused process that used a solvent to partially dissolve the polystyrene label material infringed the patents that disclosed gluing the label to secure the label to the bottle.
The judge and jury during trial examined a prior art labeling machine, the patented B & H machine, and the machine that was found to infringe. A vigorous defense was raised asserting non-infringement, patent invalidity, and to minimize damages. However, after several days of deliberations, the jury rendered a verdict in favor of B & H in an amount that, at the time, was the largest jury verdict returned in the courtroom of Judge G. Ernest Tidwell.