Nespresso sued Peet’s Coffee for product infringement
March 24 - 2022
Coffee Geography Magazine
Nespresso USA Inc takes a legal action against Peet's Coffee, another major coffee company with wide spread chain based in North Carolina. The case is Nespresso USA Inc Vs. Peet's Coffee Inc, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 1:22-cv-02209. in Manhattan federal court on Thursday, alleging its coffee pods in fringe Nespresso's trademark rights for its own capsule design. The damage claim stated that Peet's capsules make Nespresso’s customers to believe that the pods are from Nestle's Nespresso, in which Peet‘s coffee goes even further in advertising campaign with announcements that its pods are compatible with Nespresso machines. The lawsuit is about Peet's coffee capsules that are "nearly identical" to Nespresso's, with the same "frustoconical" tops, opaque colors, and other elements.
Nespresso indicated that it has the full rights for its federal trademark registration covering its pod design. The company is also asking for money damages including the profits that Peet’s gained from the alleged infringement. It was a young engineer named Eric Favre in 1975 who took a trip to Rome that would change the history of coffee. Favre had recently started working at Nestlé’s headquarters in Vevey, Switzerland, and one of his first projects was to develop a machine that would combine the convenience of domestic coffee with the quality of an Italian espresso bar, where customers paid more for a product made by an expert using large, expensive equipment.
Wandering through the centre of Rome, Favre noticed a long queue snaking from a coffee bar near the Pantheon. Plenty of other cafes nearby used the same machines. What was it about this place, Favre wondered, that made it so special? Inside, the barista explained that other operators pumped the piston just once before releasing the coffee. Favre returned to Switzerland and, along with a small team, set about designing a machine that could replicate this procedure. Favre’s aim was to build a world in which espresso was available at home. Customers would own a machine, into which they would place a sealed pod filled with ground coffee. The following year, 1976, Nestlé filed its first patent for a single-serve coffee system. Favre is one of those people who pop up in history and do great things where now the lawsuit is based on his invention. Today, some 14bn Nespresso capsules are sold every year, both online and from 810 brightly lit boutiques in 84 countries. More than 400 Nespressos are drunk every second. Hotels all round the world promote their rooms with the little Nespresso pod in a drawer by the minibar for the guests to be their own barista.
Mounting criticism over the environmental impact of its pods has also become a major issue recently in Europe and North America. Such criticism didn’t scare away George Cooney who stands for human rights abuses in South Sudan from advertising for Nespresso. In Cooney’s first ad for Nespresso, which aired in 2006, he wanders into a Nespresso boutique and starts making himself a cup of coffee. Of course he is remembered saying that he spent most of the $40m from his Nespresso work to monitor human rights abuses. The lawsuit didn’t come as a surprise since Fevre’s work means a lot for Nespresso, changing the coffee culture for millions forever