Glanbia in US lawsuit targeting Optimum Nutrition division

Texan firm suing Glanbia over use of QR codes on bodybuilding products

Glanbia’s Optimum Nutrition division is being sued by a Texan technology company, Symbology Innovations

Glanbia’s Optimum Nutrition division is being sued by a Texan technology company, Symbology Innovations


Glanbia says it will “vigorously” defend a US patent case that was filed against it this month. The lawsuit in Delaware is the latest in a string of patent and class-action cases brought against the Irish group in recent years since it ramped up a foray into the hyper-competitive US consumer nutritionals sector.

Glanbia’s Optimum Nutrition division, which manufactures products including bodybuilding supplements, is being sued by a Texan technology company, Symbology Innovations, over the codes on its nutrition products’ packaging, which can be scanned by a shopper’s smartphone.

These so-called QR (quick response) codes resemble barcodes and are commonly found on the packaging of many consumer products. Consumers generally scan the codes with the camera of their smartphone to receive information about the product directly from the manufacturer.

Symbology’s lawsuit complains specifically about the QR codes on Glanbia’s bodybuilding products, such as its whey supplements. It says the Glanbia code uses software to decipher the photograph on a remote server, before returning a relevant image or link to the user’s smartphone with information on the specific whey product from Glanbia’s Optimum website.

Symbology claims that the system used by Glanbia’s company breaches a patent it filed for a similar system in 2015. US court records shows that Symbology has filed 16 other such cases since last year against a slew of other consumer businesses, including the Converse footwear group, HarpersCollins publisher, and the Newell brands company that owns Yankee Candles.

“Glanbia does not discuss the detail of any court proceedings but we will defend our position vigorously in relation to this matter,” the Irish company said on Monday.

Consumer companies in the US are often plagued by patent cases or class-action cases put together by consumer and product lawyers.

Glanbia has defended a large number of US cases in recent years, including a trademark case over a protein brand, which was discontinued last year; a Californian class-action suit over allegations its tins of whey were not filled to the top, which was dismissed in 2016; and a 2014 case that alleged it had overstated the benefits of its bodybuilding products.