The Regional Court Düsseldorf has ruled in the patent dispute concerning water filters. The manufacturer Aqua Select is no longer allowed to advertise its water cartridges as fitting into the jugs manufactured by competitor Brita.
20 December 2019 by Christina Schulze
Brita and Aqua Select both manufacture plastic jugs with filter cartridges. The jugs are used to filter tap water before drinking. Aqua Select makes filters that can be inserted into Brita’s jugs. This is also stated on the packaging. The company also sells the filters under its own brands, for example from the drugstore dm.
The Regional Court Düsseldorf has now banned Aqua Select from advertising its cartridges as fitting into Brita’s jugs. Instead, the company must place a notice on the packaging stating that its cartridges may not be used in Brita jugs.
Both sides can appeal the decision, as no compensation is foreseen. The economic significance of the ruling is unclear, as Aqua Select could implement technical workarounds.
The dispute concerns the German part of the European patent EP 1 748 830 B9, which Brita filed for the connection of a filter cartridge with an inlet funnel for the filtration of liquids. The core of the patent is a device for restricting the flow rate of the water. This is achieved by the filter cartridge itself as well as by the way it sits in the jug.
The case is reminiscent of the patent dispute over coffee capsules between the manufacturers Nespresso, Krups, De’Longhi and Ethical Coffee Company (ECC) which broke out between 2016 and 2018.
Plaintiff Brita has a long-standing relationship with the patent law firm Mehler und Achler in Wiesbaden. For the infringement proceedings, patent attorney Klaus Mehler called in Preu Bohlig.
Aqua Select regularly works together with patent attorney Manfred Roßmanith. He is a cooperation partner of Eisenführ Speiser and brought lawyer Tilman Müller onto the case.
Preu Bohlig und Partner (Munich): Andreas Haberl, Konstantin Schallmoser
Mehler und Achler (Wiesbaden): Klaus Mehler, Niels Elzenheimer
In-house (Taunusstein): Jochen Dörring (senior manager Intellectual Property Rights Group Legal, IP & Compliance)
Eisenführ Speiser (Hamburg): Tilman Müller
IGR Patent-Management (Düsseldorf): Manfred Roßmanith
Regional Court Düsseldorf, 4b
Daniel Voß (presiding judge), Felix Terlinden, Antje Gruneberg