Packaging & Labeling

Expert Witnesses and Consultants

Packaging and labeling tell a product’s story. Creative packaging can be a work of art or sometimes (consider those resealable Ziplock packages) an important product feature. Descriptive labeling can differentiate a product from the others around it by, for example, describing its source or recounting how it was made in an environmentally sustainable fashion. Packaging and labeling together can be an effective marketing and sales tool. That is why companies can spend millions of dollars designing the proper packaging and labeling for their product.

But while packaging and labeling can help sell a product, there are regulatory and legal standards that must be met to ensure packaging safety and integrity, and regulatory guidance to ensure that consumers are adequately warned of product dangers and risks.

Primary packaging, which is sometimes called the “consumer unit” and is in direct contact with the product, must be safe and non-reactive for the product’s contents and functionally prevent contamination and damage. In the case of food products, the proper packaging extends the shelf life of food.

Secondary packaging, which groups certain products into stockkeeping units, generally referred to in the retail industry as “SKUs,” facilitates the handling of smaller products by consolidating them into a single larger pack. Secondary packaging will dictate how easily and safely the product is transported, stored, and placed in warehouses and on store shelves.

Tertiary packaging arranges SKUs into even larger groups and is typically not seen by consumers. Such large units are used for transportation and warehousing and may include wood pallets and shrink wrap.

The primary packaging materials include:

  • Paper, paperboard, and fiberboard, which are used to make labels, paper bags, butcher paper, milk and juice cartons, and corrugated boxes.
  • Plastics, which can be strong, durable, lightweight, disposable, inexpensive, and/or hygienic.
  • Glass, which is primarily used to package food and beverages.
  • Steel, which is commonly used for shipping large quantities of industrial materials such as chemicals and fuel.
  • Aluminum, which is used for aluminum cans, foil, and aerosol products.
  • Wood packaging material in the form of pallets, bins, and other containers.

Labeling is often an integral part of packaging, particularly consumer unit packaging. Collectively, federal and state laws require manufacturers to place informative labels and warnings on various types of products based upon product category, materials or substance, and applicable safety standards. The purpose of these laws is to warn consumers about inherent product dangers, prevent consumer deception and facilitate value comparisons among products.

There are many laws around packaging, though the major governing legislation for consumer product labeling is the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act. It instructs the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration to issue regulations regarding disclosures that must be made on consumer commodities. In addition, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the U.S. Department of Commerce, through its Weights and Measures Division, promote uniformity in the labeling of consumer commodities. Several laws such as The Federal Hazardous Substances Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act cover labeling of dangerous or hazardous products.

Litigation support by a packaging expert witness may involve matters such as patent infringement, including design, utility and trade dress issues. Design patents protect ornamental features that determine how a packaged product looks, such as its proportions and surface ornamentation. Utility patents protect function and how the packaging works. Trade dress describes the overall appearance and design, including size, shape, color, and graphics, of the packaging.

Our packaging and labeling experts apply diverse skill sets to navigate complex, high stakes litigation to protect your intellectual property or represent your client in civil litigation and class actions. We’ve placed packaging expert witnesses to testify in numerous cases, including a patent infringement expert in a semiconductor wafer packaging case, a materials science expert to testify on the physical properties of stretch wrap used on trucks, a packaging expert for dunnage practice standards in late 1990’s, and a packaging expert to opine on the slack-fill in personal products. On the labeling side we have placed experts to opine on EPA/FIFRA labeling requirements, and a multitude of experts to testify on deceptive labeling claims in cases related to pharmaceuticals, nutritional supplements, food and beverage items, pet foods, home cleaning products and pesticides.

Expertise for Every Eventuality

Packaging and labeling expert witnesses have many different areas of expertise. Most have degrees in a field such as Packaging Science, Packaging Systems and Design, Packaging Engineering, Polymer Science, Materials Science, Product Design, Chemical Engineering and Human Factors Engineering.

The following is a sample of the areas in which our packaging and labeling expert witnesses may consult or testify:

  • Patent or design infringement
  • Trademark, trade dress or trade secret disputes
  • Failure analysis of defective packaging
  • Food packaging product development
  • Integrity of packaged goods for warehousing
  • ANSI standards for packaging machinery
  • OSHA regulations covering packaging and bottling machinery
  • USDA Nutrition Facts Panel
  • Deceptive marketing and advertising
  • Labeling and warnings under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act
  • Labeling and warnings under the Consumer Products Safety Act
  • Environmental labeling, including the development of Material Safety Data Sheets and product manifests
  • Toxic Substances Control Act Labeling
  • Federal Hazardous Substances Act Labeling
  • Poison Prevention Act Labeling
  • Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act Labeling
  • Flammable Fabrics Act Labeling
  • Childproof Packaging Labeling
  • Textile, Wool and Fur Act Labeling

A sampling of our packaging case studies, and expert interviews showcases the breadth and depth of our experts’ proficiency.

CASE STUDY

Packaging industry expert
for price collusion class action

Attorneys representing the plaintiffs in an antitrust class action alleging collusion between packaging companies to increase prices industry-wide needed an industry expert to strengthen their case.

CASE STUDY

Packaging expert
for slack-fill case

Attorneys representing the plaintiffs in their case against a movie theater operator needed an expert in packaging to develop their argument. The suit alleged deceptive marketing practices by selling concessions items that used slack-fill.

pills

CASE STUDY

Supplement efficacy
expert for class action

An attorney needed an expert to investigate whether a key ingredient in a nutritional supplement lived up to the claims on the product label.

CASE STUDY

Chemical engineering expert
for fraud class action

Attorneys representing the plaintiffs in their class action against a consumer products manufacturer needed a chemical engineer to make their misabled products case.

CASE STUDY

Supply chain accountability
for fraud class action

Attorneys representing customers of several well-known retailers in a class action suit claiming that the retailers and product manufacturer violated the Textile Fiber Identification Act needed an expert in supply chain management.

ASK THE EXPERT

How are false advertising
claims proven?

We reached out to one of our experts to learn how the government or competitors prove false advertising. He has served as an expert witness on cases involving deceptive advertising, trademarks, marketing, survey research, and consumer behavior issues.

How We Find Your Experts

Unlike other companies who search for experts through stale databases, Rubin Anders works in lockstep with our clients to identify the precise expert you seek. Our researchers dig deep into the science or industry elite to identify the proverbial “needle in a haystack” authority you need. At Rubin Anders, the team assigned to your case will include deeply trained scientists, lawyers, and others highly skilled in their job, many with Ph.D.’s. It’s a result of understanding your problem, knowing the right questions to ask, and probing your expectations. And as your case and needs evolve, we proactively anticipate that, too. Even if you are looking for a unique expert, we take professional pride in bringing them to you.

We succeed at locating knowledgeable experts with deep experience in the packaging and labeling arenas because we have years of experience, a team of researchers who are themselves often Ph.D. scientists and our exacting search methodologies honed over 20-years in business. You will not find the technical expertise of our research department in any other expert placement firm. Our team and our process are unparalleled for successfully matching your perfect expert.

The primary criteria we use to select these individuals include, but are not limited to:

  • Academic background and certifications
  • Industry experience and professional background
  • Location and travel limitations
  • Experience in legal proceedings, including prior testimony experience
  • Qualifications of the opposition witnesses
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Fees

Our team of Ph.D. and J.D. researchers have years of experience in their disciplines and are consummately poised to identify experts who can fill the niche you need. Whether you’re seeking an intellectual property expert to opine on infringement of a blow molded bottle design, or a human factor engineering expert witness to testify to the adequacy of label warnings on a consumer product, we have the technical expertise and extensive network to find your perfect expert.

We have enjoyed a long-standing working relationship with plastics expert Dr. Robert Kimmel. Dr. Kimmel holds multiple materials engineering degrees from M.I.T. has over 30 years of industry experience and over 20 years of academic experience. He has testified in more than 50 cases. Before you leave this page, we think you’d learn some interesting facts from our conversations with him about the industry.

Plastics, polymers, and packaging

FEATURED EXPERT

Dr. Robert Kimmel
Plastics, polymers, and packaging

Dr. Kimmel holds multiple materials engineering degrees from M.I.T., has over 30 years of industry experience and over ten years of academic experience.

ASK THE EXPERT

What’s next in
packaging science?

As a thought leader in all aspects of packaging and package design, we asked Bob Kimmel to provide insight into the future of packaging. Here are some of his observations.

ASK THE EXPERT

Paper, plastic,
or reusable?

Bob Kimmel is an unequivocal environmental protection advocate and readily acknowledges the need to lessen the environmental impact of plastics, but he brings some interesting nuances to the paper versus plastics discussion.