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Competitors Broke Keurig’s DRM Machine & Pending Lawsuit

Keurig coffee machine macroA couple of months ago, I wrote about Keurig’s DRM machine and the douchebaggery of trying to lock people into a single single-serve solution. Quick recap: Keurig’s new machine only uses coffee pods designed for itself. It doesn’t even use other K-cups – just the newly designed “interactive” K-cups. The company claims that the machine has the ability to adjust water temperature and timing automatically to deliver a better cup of coffee. In reality, that appears to mean it can tell if you’re brewing a cup or a mini-carafe, and not much else. Fair disclaimer here: there are people who love the Keurig’s convenience and whose biggest gripe is that they can’t make a whole pot of coffee in the same machine. This new machine could be just the ticket for them. For everybody else, though, it really doesn’t do a whole lot different than any other decent single serve coffee maker – except make it impossible to use any coffee capsule.

Except. Within a month of the original announcement, at least two K-cup competitors had announced that they’d cracked Keurig’s DRM and would be selling Keurig 2.0 compatible coffee capsules. And that may actually be important in deciding an antitrust case (or many of them) against Keurig that is currently in the courts. The cases hinge on several factors, among them whether the purpose of this new K-cup innovation is provided for the consumer’s benefit, – that is, to extend the usability of the machine – or whether it’s anti-competitive – that is, it’s only purpose is to lock competitors out of the market.

There’s a whole lot involved here – and it’s a lot less about coffee than it is about intellectual property law, but if that sort of thing fascinates you the way it does me, you can get a pretty good rundown on the Keurig antitrust case over at Techdirt.


Deb Powers has been reading about coffee, drinking coffee, brewing coffee, writing about coffee and roasting her own coffee for nearly 30 years.She confesses to being a coffee wonk and finds endless fascination in even the most meta of coffee information.
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Deb Powers – who has written posts on CoffeeBreak.Today.

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