Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney client Ethox Chemicals filed suit against Coca-Cola, alleging the multinational beverage company misappropriated trade secrets relating to a new bottle composition. Philip L. Hirschhorn and Erin M. Dunston, both shareholders in Buchanan’s Intellectual Property Section, handled the case.

The developments are “certainly not what any of us expect from such a company,” Hirschhorn told Beverage Daily.com and other industry media.

At issue in the case is the so-called PEM molecule, which provides better barrier resistance in plastic bottles, extending the shelf life of sodas and expanding the types of beverages that can be bottled in plastic.

According to the filing timeline, Ethox’s lead researcher James Tanner proposed to Coca-Cola the PEM molecule as a replacement for its own BP01 compound. Between September and November 2009, Ethox sent PEM samples to Coke for assessment.

On December 2, 2009, Coca-Cola filed two utility patent applications, despite knowing or having reason to know that “it had to rights to PEM and that any rights to PEM belonged to Ethox and/or Tanner.”

Ethox is seeking to have Tanner named on the patents as co-inventor of the PEM molecule, as well as damages and injunctive relief barring Coca-Cola or any other party from “making, using, selling offering to sell or importing PEM or any other Ethox trade secrets,” according to BeverageDaily.com.

The case, Ethox Chemicals, LLC and James Tanner v. The Coca-Cola Company, was also noted in Chemical & Engineering News, Food Manufacturing.com, Food Production Daily, Food Chemical News and Topix Latrobe.