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Crown Cork & Seal Co., the largest maker of food and beverage cans, sued rival Continental PET Technologies Inc. in federal court in Wilmington, claiming it is illegally using a Crown Cork invention for making plastic beer bottles and food containers.

In a suit filed April 8 in U.S. District Court, Crown Cork says it is the owner of a 1991 U.S. patent for bottles made of a plastic that blocks oxygen before it can reach the contents, keeping them fresher. The bottles are designed to replace aluminum and tin cans in which many foods and beverages now come.

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