Procter & Gamble Co said on Monday it sued Kraft Foods Inc. because it claims a new plastic container for Kraft's Maxwell House coffee infringes a patent for P&G's Folgers coffee.

In a statement, P&G said the plastic coffee container it introduced in 2003 has many innovations that are covered by patents. The Folgers plastic canister features a snap-tight lid and one-way valve that preserves freshness.

In an e-mailed statement, Kraft spokeswoman Renee Zahery said the company had not yet had a chance to review the lawsuit.

I can tell you that Kraft respects valid patent rights of others and abides by all appropriate U.S. patent laws, Zahery said.

Folgers' plastic coffee container, which replaced the ubiquitous metal coffee can that coffee roasters have used for over a century, has grown the Folgers business for the past four years, P&G said.

The suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, seeks to stop Kraft from selling the new Maxwell House coffee package as well as recovery of damages, P&G said.

(Reporting by Nichola Groom)