Prepared Foods May 2, 2005 enewsletter

A judge has barred Del Monte Foods Co. from selling soft-centered pet treats after a jury ruled that Mars Inc.'s patent for the technology was valid.

U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner in Los Angeles blocked Del Monte's sale of any pet food product that violated Mars' patent. Klausner also upheld the jury's decision last month to award Mars $3.6 million in damages.

Mars sued in 2001 seeking damages and to block sales of H.J. Heinz Co.'s pet food with soft centers. Del Monte was brought into the case when it bought the pet food unit in 2002.

Del Monte did not comment.