A spokesman for Minute Maid, the Coca-Cola-owned fruit juice brand, has refuted claims made by consumer goods group, Procter & Gamble (P&G), that it is using a process for fortifying its orange juice for which P&G owns the patent.

P&G alleged in a lawsuit, filed in May, that Minute Maid is infringing on P&G's FruitCal technology, a method of adding calcium to juice, in the production of at least two types of orange juice. P&G registered its patent for this technology in 1988.

However, Minute Maid, which brands its juice as "Minute Maid Premium Calcium Rich Original Orange Juice", refutes the charges maintaining that it has its own process, which is different from FruitCal.

Minute Maid spokesman, Dan Schafer, said it uses a process based on tricalcium phosphate and calcium lactate while FruitCal is based on calcium citrate malate. "We don't believe the lawsuit has any merit," he said. "It's hard for us to understand what their motivation is. The processes are completely different. The ingredients used in the processes are completely different."
Minute Maid has another month to respond to the complaint, which was filed in the US District Court in Cincinnati.

Another twist to the story is that P&G has licensed the FruitCal method exclusively to Tropicana, the fruit juice brand owned by Coca-Cola rival, PepsiCo. PepsiCo has not commented on the lawsuit.