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Rogers Family Files Antitrust and Unfair Competition Lawsuit Against Keurig Green Mountain

 | March 17, 2014 


The Keurig 2.0 has “lock out” technology that would prevent it from working with competing pod-makers.

Lincoln, Calif.-based Rogers Family Coffee Company has filed a lawsuit against Keurig Green Mountain Inc. alleging violations of federal and California antitrust and unfair competition laws related to the distribution and sales of single-serve coffee products.

(more: After Starbucks Cease and Desist, Micro Brewer Not Giving Up Without a Laugh)

The Eastern District of California suit follows a Court of Appeals Ruing in Massachusetts District Court earlier this year in which Rogers was absolved of any wrongdoing related to patent infringements for its OneCup single-serve product, as claimed by KGM’s former wholly owned subsidiary, Keurig Inc.

In the latest suit, Rogers Family is arguing that Keurig Green Mountain is using “monopoly power in the single-serve coffee brewer and coffee pod markets to require its distribution partners to enter into exclusive anticompetitive agreements designed to maintain Keurig’s monopoly power by excluding competition.” The company is also seeking to prevent Keurig Green Mountain from moving forward with “lock out” technology for its newest brewers — the Keurig 2.0 — which are designed only to function with Keurig-approved products.

(more: Starbucks vs. Charbucks: So Much More than a Boring Trademark Violation Case)

“Our goal is to ensure that consumers in the single-serve coffee market have access to a free and open marketplace, in which they are provided the opportunity to select a wide range of products based upon whatever factors are most important to them such as price, quality, and commitment to social and environmental responsibility,” Rogers Family President Jon B. Rogers said in an announcement late last week.

For its part, Keurig Green Mountain has leveraged the popularity of its brewing units for partnerships with some of the biggest names in North American specialty coffee. The company last week announced a multi-year partnership deal with Peet’s for Keurig pods, and it is currently renewing a long-term deal with Starbucks. With its new corporate website, the company is making a concerted effort to promote its vision for brand partnerships. From KGM:

We know that offering a wide selection of quality, beloved brands is critical to the success of the Keurig® system.  We take pride in our unique ability to forge partner relationships with those some may consider to be our biggest competition.  But that’s the idea: we endeavor to satisfy everyone’s taste, even if that taste is not our own.  With an ever expanding portfolio of Keurig Brewed® brands on the shelves, we look to expand consumer choice, fuel new excitement for existing Keurig® users, raise system awareness, and attract new consumers to the system.  Collaboration that creates mutual success is at our core.

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