Keurig, a wholly owned subsidiary of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, manufactures single-brew coffee makers which have escalated in popularity over the past several years as the single-brew market took off in the U.S. Other home-brewing manufacturers have climbed the top the market, but Keurig has maintained a solid dominant position in the single-cup space. One of its competitors — TreeHouse Foods — is now suing the single-cup brewing manufacturer for antitrust and anticompetitive practices that involve its sales of coffee refill pods.
Keurig will deliberately use digital rights management (DRM) in its new coffee brewers to lock out third-party pods in a move that — as Treehouse Foods claims — effectively enables Keurig to maintain a monopoly over the cups used in Keurig’s brewers. The source of this argument stems from the sales of refill pods by third-party suppliers — essentially suppliers who are not also manufacturing coffee brewers like Keurig. Some third-party pod suppliers sell their pods for less than what Keurig does — a trend that Keurig now seeks to stem by striking exclusionary agreements with third parties to lock them out of the market.