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St. Louis snack maker wins verdict

ST. LOUIS — A Texas jury has sided with a St. Louis company in its fight with snack giant Frito-Lay over the right to produce bowl-shaped tortilla chips.

Plano, Texas-based Frito-Lay sued St. Louis-based Ralcorp Holdings and its Medallion Foods subsidiary in February 2012, saying Ralcorp’s Bowlz corn chips were too similar to Frito-Lay’s Tostitos Scoops chips.

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In both cases, the chips are formed into small bowl shapes, allowing for easier scooping.

‘‘Defendants’ bowl-shaped tortilla chips and accompanying package are an apparent intentional effort to imitate the famous, successful mark and packaging of Frito-Lay’s Tostitos Scoops tortilla chips,’’ the lawsuit claimed.

Frito-Lay asked the US District Court in Dallas to order Ralcorp to stop making the chips and pay $4.5 million in damages, but a jury sided with Ralcorp on Friday.

Frito-Lay said in a statement it was disappointed in the ruling and weighing its legal options.

Ralcorp is a leading maker of store-brand foods — private-label products using the brand names of stores where the items are sold.

Ralcorp is now part of Omaha-based ConAgra Foods Inc. after a $5 billion purchase was completed in January.

Ralcorp had responded to the lawsuit by saying it used different manufacturing process and made a better chip at a lower cost.

‘‘We are pleased with the jury’s decision in our favor,’’ ConAgra said in a statement.

‘‘We believe private brands offer a strong value to consumers, and we are delighted to bring terrific choices to shoppers.’’

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