Pizza Hut Sued Over Stuffed Crust
NEW YORK (AP) _ A pizza-making family is suing Pizza Hut for $1 billion for allegedly stealing its idea for stuffed crust pizza.
Pizza Hut said the claim is without merit and said it would ``fight our right to this product vigorously.″
The pizza, which has cheese baked into the crust, has proved a big success at Pizza Hut since its introduction last spring.
Angelo Mongiello’s Children LLC charged Pizza Hut with patent infringement in a suit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.
Children LLC holds the family’s 1987 patent to stuffed crust pizza, according to a statement by the family’s lawyer Paul Sutton.
Sutton said in a statement that the Mongiellos offered Pizza Hut a license to produce stuffed crust pizzas in 1988 and 1991 but Pizza Hut ``displayed no interest.″
Pizza Hut spokesman Rob Doughty said the Dallas-based unit of PepsiCo Inc. conducted an exhaustive patent search before launching its stuffed crust pizza and ``we found no violation of patent law.″
``We’ve had conversations with Mr. Mongiello, and we see no merit whatsoever in his claim. We will fight our right to this product vigorously,″ Doughty said.
Since Pizza Hut began selling the cheesy concoction in March, its sales at stores open at least a year rose 22 percent in the second quarter and were up 6 percent in the third quarter while pizza sales industrywide have increased only slightly.
``Unless Pizza Hut reaches some form of reasonable agreement with the Mongiellos, its potential exposure over the remaining life of the patent could exceed well over $1 billion, based upon the present rate of infringing sales from their 8,600 U.S. restaurants and delivery units,″ said Sutton.