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Post Consumer Brands, LLC v. General Mills, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

December 7, 2017

Post Consumer Brands, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
General Mills, Inc., and General Mills Sales, Inc., Defendants.

          Steven E. Garlock, Matthew A. Braunel, and Katherine E. Colvin, Thompson Coburn LLP, and Aimée D. Dayhoff, Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A., appeared for Post Consumer Brands, LLC.

          Michael E. Florey and Maria Elena Stiteler, Fish & Richardson P.C., and Charles C. Sipos and Ryan J. McBrayer, Perkins Coie LLP, appeared for General Mills, Inc., and General Mills Sales, Inc.

          MEMORANDUM (FILED UNDER SEAL)

          JOAN N. ERICKSEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Post Consumer Brands, LLC (Post), brought this action against General Mills, Inc., and General Mills Sales, Inc. (collectively, General Mills), for infringement of United States Patent No. D798, 091 (filed April 1, 2016), which is titled “Shelf Divider for Display of Bagged Food Items.” The case is before the Court on Post's Motion for Preliminary Injunction.[1] For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies Post's motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Post's shelf divider and the '091 Patent

         Post produces branded and private-label cereals and distributes them to retailers across the nation. Most of its Malt-O-Meal branded cereals are packaged and sold in plastic, resealable bags without exterior boxes. In the past, Post used wire bins with horizontal signs to display its bagged cereals on retailers' shelves. A picture of Post's wire bins appears below.

         Post's wire bins

         (Image Omitted)

         In 2015, Post developed a shelf divider to display its bagged cereals. It features a trapezoidal front panel that is connected to a side panel. A product image panel fits in the trapezoidal front panel to identify the cereal. A picture of Post's shelf divider with a product image panel appears below.

         In April 2016, Post applied for a design patent. The '091 Patent was issued in September 2017. It claims “[t]he ornamental design for a shelf divider for display of bagged food items, as shown and described” in seven figures, which appear below. Figure 1 “is a perspective view of the design showing the left front and top sides thereof.” Figure 2 “is a front view of the design.” Figure 3 “is a rear view of the design.” Figure 4

         Post's shelf divider

         (Image Omitted)

         “is a left side view of the design.” Figure 5 “is a right side view of the design.” Figure 6 “is a top view of the design.” Figure 7 “is a bottom view of the design.” “Broken lines in the drawing figures represent environment and do not constitute part of the claimed design.”

         The '091 ...


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