Brandeis University this week sued everybody from multinational food concerns to a tiny bakery in Milwaukee over margarine - which the school alleges violates patents it owns for producing what it says is heart-healthy food substances.
Brandeis's patents cover blends of saturated and polyunsaturated fats in food products that the school says increases the amount of "good" cholesterol and reduces the "bad" cholesterol in a consumer's body (one of the patents). Brandeis has only licensed the process to the company that makes Smart Balance "buttery spreads," which is also a plaintiff in the suit.
Among the companies sued: Keebler, Nestle, Pillsbury, Famous Amos, Unilever - which makes competing Promise Buttery Spread - and East Side Ovens, a small bakery in Milwaukee's Bay View neighborhood, whose owner doesn't understand why she was sued:
"We're a tiny little vegan bakery with seven employees."
The complaint, filed earlier this week in US District Court in Madison, WI, does not specify exactly how the companies violated the patents. However, in addition to companies that make competing products, the suit seeks gobs of money from companies that "buy products that infringe the Patents-in-Suit from common sources and use these infringing products in the manufacture of their products."