Texas’ Ward & Smith Helps Defeat Frito-Lay’s Claims of Trademark Infringement, Patent Infringement, Trade Secret Misappropriation

SHERMAN, Texas – Longview’s Ward & Smith, which co-counseled with Armstrong Teasdale LLP of St. Louis, Mo., successfully defended an Arkansas-based tortilla chip manufacturer and its holding company against Plano, Texas-based Frito-Lay North America, Inc.’s claims of trademark infringement, patent infringement and trade secret misappropriation, obtaining a complete defense jury verdict in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division.

Frito-Lay originally sued Medallion Foods, Inc. and its holding company, St. Louis-based Ralcorp Holdings, Inc., claiming that Medallion’s “BOWLZ” and “CUPZ” tortilla chips infringed a Frito-Lay trademark (U.S. Reg. 2,788,278) that allegedly covers the shape of the company’s TOSTITOS SCOOPS! tortilla chips. Frito-Lay also accused Medallion of infringing the company’s U.S. Patent No. 6,610,344, which covers the manufacturing process for the TOSTITOS SCOOPS! product. Finally, Frito-Lay alleged that Medallion misappropriated trade secrets.

Ward & Smith ’s Wesley Hill, assisted by firm founder T. John “Johnny” Ward Jr., led the firm’s trial team on behalf of Medallion and Ralcorp. Both companies also were represented at trial by lead counsel David W. Harlan from Armstrong Teasdale, along with firm attorneys B. Scott Eidson, Zachary C. Howenstine and Mark A. Thomas.

“We were extremely proud to work with an incredibly talented team of lawyers from Armstrong Teasdale,” says Mr. Hill. “They did a great job of preparing this complex case for trial, and were able to effectively dissect and prepare a defense to the seemingly never-ending list of allegations asserted by Frito-Lay at trial.”

Following the two week trial before the Hon. Amos L. Mazzant in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Sherman, jurors spent just under six hours in deliberations before delivering their verdict in favor of Medallion and Ralcorp.

“This was a very complicated trial, and we were fortunate to have an extremely smart jury that understood the issues and delivered a just verdict,” says Mr. Ward, a veteran of intellectual property trials in the Eastern District. “This jury digested almost 40 pages of complex instructions and returned a verdict in our clients’ favor on all issues submitted.”

Longview, Texas-based Ward & Smith has tried more than 350 cases to verdict, earning a national reputation in high-stakes claims involving complex commercial litigation, intellectual property law, oil & gas matters, and serious personal injuries. Ward & Smith frequently assists lawyers nationwide in complex cases before Texas juries.