Nespresso USA has filed a lawsuit against Peet’s Coffee in a trademark dispute over the shape and appearance of the latter’s branded coffee pods
The shape and appearance of Peet's Coffee pods is the subject of a new lawsuit filed by Nespresso USA | Photo credit: Jesper Brouwers
Nespresso’s trademark and trade dress infringement lawsuit was filed on 17 March by Mayer Brown LLP in the New York Southern District Court. The complaint alleges that Peet’s single-serve coffee capsules mimic Nespresso’s ‘cone-like’ trade dress and infringe the ‘Nespresso’ trademark.
Nespresso has said that Peet’s capsules are likely to cause confusion among consumers, with the company noting that several online reviews of Peet’s pods refer to them as ‘Nespresso’ pods.
According to a Reuters
report, Nespresso has asked the court to award it Peet's profits from the allegedly infringing capsules and tripled money damages. The lawsuit also includes an application for a federal trademark registration covering Nespresso's pod design.
Highlighting commercial potential of coffee pods around the world, in July 2020 Nespresso announced it would invest $171m
to upgrade its production facility in Romont, Switzerland, to keep pace with global demand.
Peet’s Coffee parent company, JDE Peet’s, also ramped up coffee pod production later that year, investing $130m to increase global production by 60%.
Coffee pod trademark disputes are not uncommon. In April 2021, Nespresso itself was subject to a lawsuit from German coffee brand Kruger, which alleged that Nespresso’s coffee makers infringed three of its ‘Centrifusion’ barcode patents that are used to adjust coffee pod extraction parameters.
In September 2021, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court ruled against
a bid by Nespresso to trademark the shape of its coffee capsules, stating the company’s design had an ‘ordinary’ and ‘unmemorable’ shape.
The ruling came after Ethical Coffee Company successfully counter-claimed against an earlier Nespresso lawsuit over the infringement of coffee pod trademark rights.
In February 2015, a Nestlé patent for a system used to extract capsules from its Nespresso coffee machines was also ruled invalid by a court in Germany.