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Pepsi Sued by Heirs of Developer of Pepsi-Cola
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Pepsico Inc was sued on Friday by the heirs of Richard Ritchie, the person who developed the formula for Pepsi-Cola in 1931. The plaintiffs said that they were filing their suit to remove any doubt that the documents of Richard Ritchie were theirs to share with collectors, film producers and historians.

Ritchie’s daughter, Joan Ritchie Silleck and Ritchie’s son Rober Ritchie said that they wanted to “tell their father’s extraordinary life story without interference or the threat of litigation” from Pepsi. The lawsuit asks for undisclosed damages for the “improper interference (of Pepsico) with their rights in the Ritchie invention and the Ritchie documents.”

The lawsuit maintained that the disputed documents had been “physically and legally” controlled by a member of the Ritchie family for more than 50 years. The estate of Richard, the late son of Ritchie was also present as a plaintiff.

  
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Richard Ritchie developed the Pepsi-Cola formula while working with the Loft Candy Company in 1931. Ritchie, who was a chemist, stayed with Pepsi-Cola after it became a separate company, but he later joined Cantrell & Cochrane Company in 1962. He retired in 1982 and died in 1985.

The lawsuit claims, “the heirs are the rightful owners of the Ritchie invention because, inter alia, Pepsi failed to require that Mr. Ritchie transfer ownership to the Ritchie invention to Pepsi despite knowing that he had developed the Pepsi-Cola formula while working as an employee of another company.”

For Pepsi, the lawsuit can stir up a hornet’s nest and can lead to loss of control over the original formula. It would truly amount to great hurt to the brand if companies all across the world start producing soft drinks with the “authentic pepsi cola” formula. Something that is difficult to prevent if the allegations in the lawsuit are true and Pepsi failed to obtain the formula from Ritchie by sealing all legal loopholes.

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The case is Joan Ritchie Silleck, the estate of Richard James Ritchie and Robert Ritchie v Pepsico Inc, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 12-3556





 

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