Cases and Deals

Blank Rome Wins Jury Verdict for PPG Industries Invalidating Patents Asserted by Sherwin-Williams

On March 8, 2022, a Pittsburgh jury returned a verdict for Blank Rome’s client PPG Industries in Sherwin-Williams Co. v. PPG Industries Inc., invalidating five Sherwin-Williams patents. The verdict followed a five-day trial, and came less than 24 hours after Blank Rome’s Andrew K. Fletcher delivered the closing argument on behalf of PPG. 

Sherwin-Williams sued PPG in 2016 for patent infringement, seeking to keep PPG’s INNOVEL HPS™ off the market in the United States. PPG’s INNOVEL HPS™ is a BPA-free interior beverage can coating initially developed in response to demand from French can-makers to comply with French law. After PPG successfully converted French can manufacturers to INNOVEL HPS™ in 2014, market demand in the United States started to grow, spurred by California’s Proposition 65. In response to this demand, PPG, Valspar, and Akzo Nobel marketed to U.S. customers their respective BPA-free coating products. Valspar sued PPG in 2016 claiming that INNOVEL HPS™ infringed Valspar’s patents (Valspar was acquired by Sherwin-Williams in 2017). At trial, Sherwin asserted claims from five patents, including two that issued after the litigation was filed.  

In his closing argument to the jury on March 7, Blank Rome’s Andy Fletcher argued that PPG’s INNOVEL HPS™ is based on a latex polymer invented by PPG’s Dr. Leon Perez in 1993. Andy argued that Sherwin's patents claimed nothing not taught in PPG’s Perez patent, and never should have been issued. The real motivation for Sherwin's lawsuit, he argued, was that Sherwin’s BPA-free coating was inferior, as demonstrated by Sherwin’s failure to qualify its BPA-free coating in France after it failed a Coke taste test. At the trial, the jury heard from two retired PPG scientists, Dr. Leon Perez, the inventor of the PPG Perez patent, and Dr. Debra Singer, who led PPG’s resin synthesis team for the six-year project that resulted in INNOVEL HPS™. The resulting jury verdict vindicated PPG’s innovation and rigorous process for the development of INNOVEL HPS™.  

For more information, please visit Jury Invalidates Sherwin-Williams Beverage Can Coating IP (Law360, March 8, 2022).

The Blank Rome team was led by Andrew K. Fletcher and included Erica R. Graves, Domingo LLagostera, and Richard M. Weibley, and worked as part of a team effort with additional outside legal counsel.