Wednesday, May 11, 2005

KRAFT TO DOUBLE ITS NUMBER OF PATENT LAWYERS: (Chicago Tribune) Worried about the growing ability of private-label competitors to mimic its products, Kraft Foods Inc. is doubling the number of its patent lawyers in a bid to protect its innovations. Speaking at the company's annual investor meeting at its Northfield headquarters, Chief Executive Roger Deromedi said the company's staff of about a dozen patent lawyers would soon be doubled.

Private-label competitors have eaten into market share in core Kraft categories ranging from cheese to crackers to cold cuts. The company has 2,100 worldwide patent families, which relate to each innovation or product, including 1,100 in the U.S. Deromedi said his company, the maker of Oscar Mayer hot dogs, Miracle Whip and Oreo cookies, had looked in detail at how effectively it spent its research and development money. Rather than spend more on research and development, he first wanted to make sure Kraft was focusing on the ideas with the best potential.

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