Scott R. Craig /

San Francisco Bay French Roast cartridges by Rogers Family Co. The Lincoln-based roaster, packager, grower and seller of gourmet coffee products, has filed a federal lawsuit against the makers of Keurig’s one-cup brewing systems.

Lincoln coffee roaster files lawsuit against Keurig maker

Published: Thursday, Mar. 13, 2014 - 5:26 pm
Last Modified: Friday, Mar. 14, 2014 - 10:56 am

An ongoing legal dispute among single-serve coffee product producers has boiled over in court once again.

Rogers Family Co., a Lincoln-based roaster, packager, grower and seller of gourmet coffee products, has filed a federal lawsuit against the makers of Keurig’s one-cup brewing systems.

The legal action claims violations of federal and California antitrust and unfair competition laws. The lawsuit seeks damages to be determined at trial.

The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California names Keurig Green Mountain Inc., formerly known as Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. and successor to GMCR’s former wholly-owned subsidiary Keurig Inc.

Keurig officials contacted by The Sacramento Bee declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Keurig recently lost an appeal of a district court ruling that Rogers had not infringed on Keurig’s K-Cup patents.

Rogers launched its OneCup product – which uses a mesh filter instead of a plastic brewing pod – in the fall of 2011. Last year, it launched OneCup Bio, which is touted as 97 percent biodegradable.

“We filed this lawsuit to end Keurig’s anti-competitive practices which deny consumers access to our and other competitors’ products,” said Jon Rogers, Rogers Family Co. president, in a statement. “Our goal is to ensure that consumers in the single-serve coffee market have access to a free and open marketplace, in which they are provided the opportunity to select a wide range of products based upon whatever factors are most important to them such as price, quality, and commitment to social and environmental responsibility.

“No single company should be permitted to control consumer choice or prices through illegal, anti-competitive conduct.”

In the lawsuit, the Lincoln company claims that Keurig has used monopoly power in the single-serve coffee brewer and coffee pod markets to require its distribution partners to enter into exclusive anticompetitive agreements designed to maintain a Keurig monopoly in the market. The lawsuit says that Keurig plans to launch a new line of single-serve brewers that will contain lockout technology that will prevent them from functioning with competitors’ coffee pod products.

The Rogers lawsuit contends that Keurig’s actions have harmed and will continue to harm consumers by restricting consumer choice, and claims that Keurig has made false, disparaging comments about Rogers’ coffee pod products.

Founded in 1979 by Jon Rogers and his wife, Barbara, Rogers Family Co. supplies its coffee and tea products to retail, wholesale and individual customers nationwide.

Massachusetts-based Keurig’s single-serving products include teas, hot chocolate and fruit-flavored drinks.

Call The Bee’s Mark Glover, (916) 321-1184.

Read more articles by Mark Glover

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