Coffee With DRM Protection? Keurig Competitor Screams Antitrust
Antitrust ClaimsLast month, TreeHouse Foods, Inc. announced that it was filing an antitrust and unfair competition lawsuit against Green Mountain, under both federal and common law from the states of New York, Wisconsin, and Illinois. The lawsuit first claims that Green Mountain has used its market dominance to force business partners into entering exclusive agremeents. It then turns its attention to the DRM'd coffee pods. Interestingly enough, the Sixth Circuit, in 2012, found that similar claims brought by a third-party ink cartridge manufacturer against Lexmark (also a dispute over DRM), could not be brought due to a lack of standing. It'll be interesting to see if this lawsuit's federal claims meet the same fate.
DRM and DMCAThat case, by the way, became really interesting when the generic manufacturer reverse-engineered the DRM chips. Lexmark's Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) claims over the chips failed in an earlier Sixth Circuit case. Even if Keurig wins the antitrust battle, and puts the chips in their pods, and consumers actually buy the newer DRM-only machines (instead of third-party knockoffs), the coffee giant may not have a means of protecting the DRM itself.
- TreeHouse v. Green Mountain Coffee (Complaint - Scribd)
- Keurig under fire for use of DRM in new coffee makers (Inside Counsel)
- Trade Secret Theft Accounts For Up To 3 Percent of GDP (FindLaw's In House Blog)
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