Heinz unveiled its dual-purpose packaging in February. The small package allows consumers to open a small end and squeeze the ketchup through or peel back the cover to allow users to dip food into the ketchup.
But David Wawrzynski says he was watching a consumer try to open a foil ketchup packet with her teeth in the mid-1990s and concluded there had to be a better way, The Detroit News reported Monday.
Wawrzynski says he presented his concept of a package that allows consumers to dip their food into it to Heinz in 2008. Heinz, he said, asked him to produce 100 samples of his package for a marketing test, then abruptly concluded they had lost interest.
Later, he said, when Heinz promoted its new "Dip & Squeeze" package on television, friends called him up to congratulate him on selling his idea to the company. But Heinz, he concluded, had stolen his concept without paying any compensation for it.
Heinz spokeswoman Jessica Jackson said the lawsuit is "groundless and has no legal merit."
"Heinz took what David Wawrzynski brought to them and used it for their own benefit," said Gene Boyle Jr., the attorney who filed the case in Wayne County, Mich., on Wawzynski's behalf.
"It was plainly obvious that David was traveling and meeting with Heinz for economic benefit, not because he wanted to help Heinz improve its product because he's a good guy."