Report: #6443

Complaint Review: Campbell Soup Company

  • Submitted: Fri, August 31, 2001
  • Updated: Sat, September 22, 2012
  • Reported By: Chicago Ridge IL
  • Campbell Soup Company
    1 Campbell Place
    Camden, New Jersey

Show customers why they should trust your business over your competitors...

I submitted the 'pop top soup can idea' to the Campbell Soup Company in July, 1998. By around July, 2000 they had soup cans with 'pop tops' on them in stores as well as a multi-million dollar ad campaign touting the 'new' pop top soup cans.

I contacted them about this demanding that they pay me since they used my idea without compensation and without having me waive my rights to it. Their lawyer called on the phone as well as sent a 'kiss off' letter to me, although admitting that they have records of my submittal. I then sent them a letter asking for proof that they knew of the 'pop top soup can idea' as well as seriously considered using it before my submittal to them. NO REPLY!

Now if they did have proof, I don't think they would be so shy as to NOT show it to me to get me to shut up and not pursue legal action against them. They know I can't afford to take them on in court so they just sit back and take advantage of the situation they have me in.

In my opinion, I am entitled to a bare minimum of the low $100,000's for their use of my submittal which has generated untold millions of dollars for them. What angers me the most is the audacity this corporation has in regards to their position of power.

I have copies of our correspondence, not to mention they admitted to having my submittal in a letter they sent back to me.

If the people behind this website can help me collect what is rightfully mine, I have no problem paying a fee on what you help me collect from the Campbell Soup Company.
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This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 08/31/2001 12:00 AM and is a permanent record located here: The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content

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#1 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Pop top on Campbells soup

AUTHOR: Employee - (United States of America)

I was an employee of Dayton Reliable Tool and Mfg. Co., inventors of the easy open end for beer/beverage and food,  during the early 1980's. We were trying to convince Campbells Soup to put an easy open end/pop top (actually called a full panel pull) on their products.
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#2 Consumer Suggestion

Royalties and intelectual property rights

AUTHOR: Steve - (U.S.A.)

I am not a lawyer, but have dealt to many over the years in business. I will tell you, and anyone else reading this article, that the USA is a capitalistic society- nothing more. We always have been and always will be. it took me wasting a good part of my life figuring this out sadly, and too many times people get confused in the name of religion or morlas or ethics.

If under any circumstance you truly invent or create an idea, you need to have it copyrighted or file for protection of that invention, etc. as without such legal proof in form, you can be the moral recipient of the idea and anyone is able to take your idea and run with it and call it their own if they file the protections for that idea as their own... it is the way it is and sad.

I sympathize with you to this point personally, and understand your frustration. Because when I was in high school, my best friend's dad and his partner sacrificed many hours designing and drawing specs. on what would be know as the rotary engine which I believed VOlkswagen or such utilized... ANyway, they went to Chrysler originally with their plans and ideas, etc. and tried to sell it. It cost them months of time, inevsted monies, trips, meteings, etc.. and in the end, theyw ere told it was not innovative enough or something to that length, paid a small fee for the plans to kepe on file; and eventually, all of a sudden you saw ads for this enw revolutionary engine being manufactured, etc. in the coming years, and my friend's dad and partner got not a d**n pennt. because they NEVER ahd patents in place or filed proepr paers to protect their idea, and the auto industry was not bound to give them anything of they didn't want to.. And in the capitalistic society we do live in, of course the auto industry was not about to give out royalties or monies to a "nobody" because that is what he legally was seen without proper patents in place.

Did they steal his idea and make $billions? Many would say yes. Did he properly have his cards in place up front and patents field before ever engaging in demonstrations of his ideas to Chrylser and others? No they had nothing in place to protect their idea.

All their hard work, years of planning, drawings, etc they literally gave away to another who had the wherewithall to run with them and profit from them legally- and that is the American way.

The sooner people relaize this, the better they will understand, there is not ethics, morality, or care in busines sin America. It is abouyt money for thsoe who control a product and market it to others...
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#3 Consumer Comment

I generally hate lawyers, but.....

AUTHOR: Antoine - (U.S.A.)

You point out some interesting ways of mounting a legal challenge, but in defense of the attorney, a case has to have a certain level of legal merit or a judge will throw it out and not allow it to go to trial. So it might be that one or more of your suggestions has no chance of getting past the judge to ever go to a jury trial. So its just possible that the lawyer's analysis may have more merit than you are acknowledging.
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#4 Consumer Comment

Not so fast

AUTHOR: Richard - (U.S.A.)

I read with great interest the IP lawyers comments. While, on the surface, most of what you say is the law, you forget some very important considerations.

Just because you don't have a patent or show IP to a company, that doesn't mean that you cannot file suit and win. Is the road more difficult? Sure, but it can be done.

Also, many times there is fraud involved in these cases such as misrepresentation and asset missapropriation. This is illegal, whether or not someone has a patent or copyright.
Let's face it, if you ake something of mine, I don't care if you present me with a law that says that it was legal.

I will present you with many options to win my case including fraud, unfair trade practices, Trade Secret Act violations, etc. In fact, I would go as far as search the company's Board of Governance and ethics credos often displayed on their websites. I could say that I read this and it informed me that the company would act ethically. I relied upon this and incurred damages as a result.

Not having a patent or not being solicited does not give someone the right to unfairly benefit from someone elses ignorance. Put it in front of a jury, that's why they are there.

If I let attorneys handle everything, they would show each other laws and argue about procedural laws instead of whether or not someone was unfairly wronged.

Can't you attorneys have a bit of imagination, some reasonable compassion, explore other possibilities before YOU decide what can't be tried?

I agree that this pop top thing is a big reach with very little damage but to just throw a bunch of laws as to why they can do this is parochial at best. You have to remember that questions of law should not be looked at from a linear perspective.
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#5 Consumer Suggestion

No Problem! I respect the policies of this site

AUTHOR: Robert - (U.S.A.)

I respect the policies of this site and understand completely why they might delete a phone number or website link. No Problem!

I would suggest that any solo inventor contact INVENTOR'S DIGEST magazine or the UNITED INVENTORS ASSOCIATION for good honest information about the invention process.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of folks out there willing to rip-off solo inventors, and as a solo inventor, you should be aware of the problem.

And unfortunately, many solo inventors have unrealistic expectations of the invention process and are totally unaware (as the original complaintent was) of the proper procedures.

For the record, my practice is closed to any new clients until at least January of next year. I am already overwhelmed with work! But thanks anyway.

I do, however, support the efforts of the solo inventor community to dissimnate good solid information to inventors.
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#6 Consumer Comment

Another idea/invention

AUTHOR: Bob - (U.S.A.)

If you come up with another great idea or invention document it first. Copyright or patent it. Then submit it to companies for review.

Good luck.
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#7 Consumer Suggestion

Comments from an Intellectual Property Attorney

AUTHOR: Robert - (U.S.A.)

When you submit an unsolicited and unpatented idea to a company, they are under no obligation to pay you for the idea at all. Period.

By telling them the idea without some Non-Disclosure Agreement (contract) in place first, you are publically disclosing it, and it is now PUBLIC DOMAIN.

Many companies have "Non Disclosure Agreements" that they will ask you to sign. These NDAs really are not what they seem. They agree only to respect your PATENT rights for an invention, and nothing else. So read them carefully before signing!

If you are going to submit an idea to a company, you should at least file a Provisional Patent Application first - and definately document your date of conception.

BUT, submitting ideas to companies is probably the worst way to go about developing an invention. Companies just are NOT interested in your ideas!

((Link REDACTED, read link below))

Now with regard to your specific invention, the concept of the pop-top can has been around long before 1998. Dinty Moore used this for their beef stew, for example. And of course, it has been used in pet foods (Fancy Feast Catfood) for years and years.

And this is just what I can come up with from the top of my head. A search at the Patent Office Website ( would undoubtedly show much earlier invention of the pop-top can.

The idea of applying a pop-top can to soup does not have any Patentable novelty. It is little more than a packaging or product suggestion.

Under the LAW, you have no recourse if you freely disclose such a concept to Campbell's soup without some agreement in place first.

By publicly disclosing the "invention" it is now public domain. They are under no obligation to pay you a penny, even if they "stole" your idea.

But since it is such an old idea, they really cannot be considered to have "stolen" it.

So you have no recourse here - there is no "cause of action" you can bring against Campbell's soup, as they have broken no laws and have committed no torts against you.

In the future, do NOT diclose inventions or ideas to outside companies unless they sign a REAL Non-Disclosure Agreement in advance where they will agree to compensate you for your idea.

I am cetain than Campbell's soup, like most companies, will refuse to sign such an agreement (and for good reason!).

Your whole premise about the law is backwards. You do not need to "waive" your rights to an invention for someone to use it. Rather, by telling someone about it, you automatically waive any rights you have, unless you file for a Patent.

By the way, the time period for filing a Patent is ONE YEAR from the date of disclosure, so you cannot file at this time.

But like I said, you don't have an invention here anyway.

Sorry, but that is the hard truth. You owe Campbell's an apology.

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#8 Consumer Comment

The pop top inventor was my neighbor growing up

AUTHOR: Tina - (U.S.A.)

Ermal Fraze invented the pop-top in Kettering Ohio during the 1960's. I know because he and his family were our neighbors in Kettering Ohio. His son Terry Fraze attended Fairmont West H.S. along with my brother. The Fraze family lived in a very modern house up on a hill off of SW Blvd. and surrounded by trees. Our other neighbor was the Mead family (Mead Corporation envelopes, etc.)They continue to live in Kettering on the Mead estate.
Yes, Mr. Fraze invented the pop-top, although he invented many other things as well.
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#9 Consumer Comment


AUTHOR: Sierra - ()

Dear Pop A Top again:

I sympathize with your situation. Unfortunately, altho I am not a lawyer, I can't see where you can win. However, the McDonald's Coffee thing threw my whole mind-think procedures. You just never know.

Perhaps you should check into an "amubulance chaser" type of a lawyer. Maybe they are the lowest of the low, BUT they do know how to fight dirt with dirt, and sometimes, major corporations just want to 'make you go away' and will settle.... even if that means you don't win the moral fight.

And - again, this is just my opinion, be careful, if you have a website like this posted - that I just happened to run across in a search for something totally unrelated, then someone from the Campbell's corporation can as well (I'm sure you've thought of that) and read the responses, preparing themselves in advance for any other retaliation on your part.

In closing - I'd like to say, I only read two rebuttal/responses. The first two that were so negative. I'm probably too compassionate for life in the new era, nevertheless, don't pay attention to them..... most out 'there' just wish they'd have gotten an idea before the other guy, and are extremely jealous when someone's trying to do the right thing, or just asking for help, we all need it.

Sympathetically yours
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#10 0


AUTHOR: - ()

Hi Mrs. A,
I'll go point by point with your questions just so I can be as brief as possible.

Campbell's didn't solicit my idea. Nope, no signed contract with them.

Why are they obligated to me, well until they prove to me(which I have asked them to do but they haven't) that they seriously were planning to implement some sort of pop top soup can before I submitted it to them, I feel its highly likely that they used what I gave to them (naively).

Are pop tops new---No, and I do know that. But golly gee, they are new for soup cans (2000), 2 years after I submitted the intellectual property to them in 1998. They should have had me sign away my rights to it. Do corporations have to rip off people, no, but do they, YES!

Yes, product development, test marketing, and corporate inertia do take time, hence the pop tops coming out a full 2 years after I submitted it to them. I do have a marketing degree, I was just naive at the time.

Um, the time frame was outlined to you in the orginal report. I submitted it to them in the summer of 1998 and pop top soup cans were on the shelves in the summer of 2000.

Yep, Campbell's got me original letter and admitted to its contents. They contacted me twice by letter and once by phone.

Why do I think I am owed, well because intellectual property has a price, with or without a contract.

I have not contacted can manufacturers.

Yes I understand lots of different people throughout the years send the same ideas workable or not to your company and others, but as things relate to my case, the timeframe is quite suspicious to me since of course my idea was USED. I guess that means its sort of original since it was used and never used before on soup cans, huh? Nice ad campaign touting the pop top soup cans too, must be novel.

I don't know what Campbell's internal procedures are, so I can't comment on them.

Um you said they didn't return my letter, well I got 2 letters as well as a phone call from them, so it was returned. They wouldn't owe me anything if they had gotten me to waive my rights or proven to me that they had this idea in serious development before I came along. All they have to do is prove it to me, is that so much to ask of them to stay out of litigation?! Yet, their silence is deafening.

Not familiar with the Disney thing you were talking about.

lol, no contract = no claim. Well there are numerous exceptions to that rule! Your Kmart example isn't comparable to my situation, false analogy! You are right, professional marketers wouldn't give away something along the lines I did. What can I say, I was just finishing up on my marketing degree and was naive. Nice way to break my way into the marketing arena. Toughened me up quite a bit.

I do appreciate your valid points Mrs. A. I understand your viewpoints too. But having said that, I've had 2 intellectual property attorneys say I have a case, just a very tough one. Too bad one of those attorneys was too far away from Campbell's headquarters to make it feasible and the other one was way too expensive for my blood.

Michael Angelo,
Well I will leave lawsuits such as the Firestone ones to you. Why don't u spill some McDonald's coffee on yourself and sue them. Pop tops may not be new, but pop tops on soup cans are(year 2000 they came out)! hmmmmm. A company facing a possible litigation does need to send proof, or they are quite stupid or guilty. Where did you get the impression that I claimed I invented pop tops? Comprehend something before commenting on it. I'm not some sue-happy person you think I am.

BTW, Firestone makes tires, not wheels. CORRECT? I bet you would be the first person in line to sue them if the tread broke on YOUR Ford Explorer tires. Its easy to make light of something you don't know the details about. I find it funny how you think I am trying to rip them off, quite ironic.
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#11 0

In all honesty, as a layperson, I feel you have no claim.

AUTHOR: - ()

This email is a rebuttal to RipOff #6443.

It was sent by Mrs. A at

Campbell Soup Company ripped off my 'pop top soup can idea' that I submitted to them in 1998--(please help me get my money back) (#6443)

They filed the following rebuttal to the above Rip-Off Report:

Their email:

Their name: Mrs. A

Their phone number: n/a

Their relationship to the company: Advocate


As one who worked for a huge entertainment company's suggestion programfor a number of years, wherein I was involved in evaluation of suggestionslike yours, I have some questions:

*How did Campbell's solicit your suggestion? Or did you simply write them and tell them you thought it would be neat to have pop-top soup cans?

*If they did not solicit your suggestion, why do you feel they would be obligated to pay you if they used this type of can or something similar? Did you sign a contract prior to telling them any of your "trade secrets?"

*Did you ever consider that pop-top cans are "not a new idea?" That is, SnackPack pudding has used them for you really think a canned food manufacturer has to rip off ideas from laypeople?

*Has it occurred to you that before a company would change product packaging, particularly for something as world-renowned as Campbell's Soups, they would do some research & development and market testing?

*How long after you submitted your suggestion before you saw this being done? Do you really think they got your letter, said, "Gee, here's a novel idea, we should forego everything we've done for years and do this today? Let's steal this person's idea and use it without giving them as much as a can of Chicken Noodle soup? Can we turn this around in two weeks and distribute nationwide, it's such a great thought???

*Did Campebells ever receive your letter? Do you have a signed receipt from the postal service showing that it was delivered and who signed for it? Did someone from the company ever call you to discuss your idea or mention they were thinking of using it? If so, did they offer/ promise you any compensation?

@hy do you think they owe you hundreds or thousands of dollars now?? Even if they used your idea to switch packaging from standard cans to pop-top ones, if you didn't get a written contract for them to do it after you'd suggested it?

*Can vendors probably already have pop-top cans available in their product inventory. Have you contacted can manufacturers to see whether this is an off-the-shelf packing product or if it would have to be specially designed and constructed by Campbells before they could market it?

In my experience, our company got suggestions in 1995 that were exactly the same ideas submitted back in 1982. Each suggester felt his/her idea was completely unique and original to them. They would swear the idea had never been thought of before--couldn't have been, it was so great it would definitely have been implemented! Wrong. I felt bad shattering their

dreams by pointing to years-old examples with the same idea. Just because their ideas were good to them, doesn't make them workable for any number of reasons.

Where I used to work, I was obligated, the minute I opened an envelope and found an unsolicited suggestion from someone who did not work with our company, to return all submission contents to the envelope, seal it, and place the entire package in a large envelope which I delivered to the legal department. Legal returned all of the materials to the suggesters, unevaluated, with a letter thanking them for their interest but explaining

our R&D (Research/Development) group was responsible for creative changes.

Our company policy did not allow us to listen to (by phone) or read any (mailed/delivered) idea from any nonemployee. Truth was, virtually none of the submissions, either from the introductory statements by phone or the opening statements of their letters, were original ideas---I'd heard most of them before.

Face it, you offered a consumer suggestion to a company who did not ask for it and without a contract to share the reward if it was implemented successfully. Just because they did not return your letter does not mean they used your idea--I take it to mean they don't have a program for handling consumer suggestions and complaints. I can't imagine they'd have to, either, because if you don't have a contract, they don't owe you anything.

Are you trying to copy the company who says the submitted the idea for the Walt Disney World Sports Complex? They hired a big shot attorney who won a monstrous award against the company based on ridiculous issues (Michael Eisner was chastised for not correctly stating the name of one of his directors---does every CEO with 54,000 employees have to know the name of every director in their corporation??? Come on, how ridiculous). While I was not part of the lawsuit in any way, I sure wish I had been able to sit on the jury, to point out obvious facts revealing what a bogus hoax the whole lawsuit was. Sure, there were similarities in what was suggested, but how many ideas regarding attraction signage really are new???? Go to Central FLorida and look around. It all starts to look alike.

In all honesty, as a layperson, I feel you have no claim. If you had no contract, you have no claim. I could send a letter to Kmart and tell them they should offer a particular style of baby booties in a size 7, and if they someday offer the same product like I suggested, should I make a claim for hundreds of thousands because they used my idea? No way.

Unless you are a food packaging/distribution company who solicited concrete plans and marketing ideas which were not returned to you, I'm afraid you are out of luck. Professional marketers would NEVER give away an idea without patenting/trademarking/registering it first.

You are obviously a bright person who came up with a great suggestion to the soup company which would benefit its consumers....I agree with that. However, I can't see that they owe you anything, although a thank you would be nice. Think about this, though: If they thank you, then are you happy, or do you feel even more sure they must've used your great idea and

so they owe you money? That may be why they won't thank you!

The one thing the company should have done in this situation, based on my experience, was return your letter, unevaluated, with a note explaining they cannot accept unsolicited consumer suggestions. Just because they failed to do this, though, does not make them liable to you based on my experience.

Good luck with your claim should you choose to pursue it. I think the attorney who won the giant lawsuit against Disney's Sports Complex was Willie Gary, and he was practicing in Florida (I don't know from which town but it was not Orlando/Orange County).

Please let us know if you get any satisfaction!

Mrs. A
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#12 0

Maybe next you can go after Firestone for taking your wheel invention.

AUTHOR: - ()

This email is a rebuttal to RipOff #6443.
It was sent by Michael Angelo at

Campbell Soup Company ripped off my 'pop top soup can idea' that I submitted to them in 1998--(please help me get my money back) (#6443)

They filed the following rebuttal to the above Rip-Off Report:

Their email:
Their name: Michael Angelo
Their phone number: 206-206-0206
Their relationship to the company: Advocate

Campbell's didn't rip you off, and they don't need to send you proof, because they (and you) didn't inevnt pop-tops. Pop-top cans were invented back in the 1960s. I remember as a kid first seeing them on little cans of pudding and pork-n-beans.

Maybe next you can go after Firestone for taking your wheel invention.
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