The Rogers Family Company, a family-owned, Lincoln-Calif.-based roaster, packager, grower and seller of gourmet coffee products, has filed a lawsuit against Keurig Green Mountain, Inc., formerly known as Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. and successor to GMCR’s former wholly-owned subsidiary, Keurig, Inc. in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California for violations of federal and California antitrust and unfair competition laws.
Rogers’ lawsuit follows its victory in a ruling March 12 by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The Court of Appeals rejected Keurig’s appeal and affirmed the U.S. District Court’s 2013 decision (District of Massachusetts) that granted Rogers summary judgment that it did not infringe Keurig patents and that Rogers’ OneCup single serve product is unique. The Rogers Family Company (www.rogersfamilyco.com) launched OneCup – which uses a mesh filter instead of a plastic brewing pod – in fall 2011. The Rogers family last year launched OneCup BIO which is 97 percent biodegradable.
“We filed this lawsuit to end Keurig’s anticompetitive practices which deny consumers access to our and other competitors’ products,” said Rogers Family Company President Jon B. Rogers. “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 suit which will seek damages as determined by the trial, The Rogers family alleges that Keurig has used its 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 Keurig’s monopoly power by excluding competition. In addition, Keurig has announced plans to launch a new line in 2014 of Single-Serve Brewers – Keurig 2.0 – that Keurig has stated will contain lockout technology to prevent Keurig 2.0 brewers from functioning with competitors’ coffee pod products. According to Keurig, the Keurig 2.0 brewers would replace its existing lines of Keurig brewers that function with competing coffee pod products. In addition, Rogers’ lawsuit alleges that Keurig has made false, disparaging comments about Rogers’ coffee pod products and has already begun to try to persuade distributors and retailers not to purchase Rogers’ and other competitors’ coffee pods based on representations that they will not function with the forthcoming Keurig 2.0 brewers.
The Rogers Family Company asserts that Keurig’s actions have harmed and will continue to harm consumers by restricting consumer choice and by allowing Keurig to impose supra competitive prices for its pod products.
The legal case – which involves a $4 billion coffee company approximately 25 times larger than the relatively small Rogers Family Co. – has been followed nationally because of the high stakes not only for the industry but also for consumers. The single-serve market is the fastest-growing segment of the multi-billion dollar coffee industry which is second only to oil as a commodity.
Keurig filed its lawsuit against Rogers in 2011. And on May 24, 2013, U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor, IV of the District of Massachusetts ruled that Rogers did not infringe the three patents asserted by Keurig. Keurig appealed to the Federal Circuit.
“When Keurig sued us they told our customers and the industry that our products infringed their patents, that we copied their design and that consumers should not use our products,” added Jon B. Rogers. “I said that the Keurig complaint was without merit and the court agreed with my assessment and granted judgment in our favor on all claims. This is a great victory not only for our customers but for all coffee consumers.”
Terlato Wines has entered into a partnership to import the wines of Bodegas Valdemar, an innovative, award-winning, producer from the iconic Spanish appellation of Rioja.
The agreement with Bodegas Valdemar caps a search by Terlato for a Rioja winery possessing the elements the company has identified as keys to success in the U.S. luxury wine market: family ownership, superior estate vineyards and a keen focus on the highest quality wines.
“We have found an ideal partner in Rioja,” said Terlato Wines Chief Executive William A. Terlato. “In a very traditional appellation, the Valdemar family has shown how a bold approach to grape-growing and winemaking can deliver critically acclaimed wines. We’re excited to expand U.S. distribution and develop the full potential of their wines in the U.S.”
Just last August, Terlato entered into an import partnership with the Priorat winery Marco Abella. With the addition of Bodegas Valdemar, Terlato’s renowned portfolio now also features a selection of acclaimed Spanish wines.
Terlato will feature wines from two Bodegas Valdemar lines: Conde de Valdemar and Inspiracion Valdemar. Wines from both lines have earned spots on Wine Spectator‘s prestigious Top 100 wines list for the past two years consecutively: The 2010 Inspiracion Valdemar Seleccion ranked in 2013, and the 2011 Conde de Valdemar White Rioja ranked in 2012.
The Conde de Valdemar wines reflect three traditional Rioja classifications: Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva. Tempranillo forms the backbone of all the wines, with grapes sourced from estate vineyards in the higher elevation of Rioja Alta, the flatlands of Rioja Baja and the rolling hills of Rioja Alavesa.
Inspiracion Valdemar, a “winery within a winery,” was created by Carlos and Ana Martinez-Bujanda, following in the footsteps of innovation set by their father, Jesus, who in the 1980s was a leader in bringing temperature-controlled fermentation to Rioja. The new facilities for Inspiracion Valdemar provide the means to cool the grapes, carefully select bunches and berries, use small fermentation tanks and experiment with a wide range of oak types.
The North American Tea Championship (NATC) has named the 22 best, premium hot teas from the fall 2013 harvest. The evaluation was held Feb. 20-21 in Las Vegas, Nev., and all of the high-quality winning teas are commercially available in the marketplace.
Companies that took home an esteemed first-place award include: Black Tusk Trading; Florapharm Tea; Garden to Cup Organics Ltd.; International Tea Importers, Mountain Tea; Naivetea; Octavia Tea; QTrade Teas & Herbs; Sipping Streams Tea Company; TeaSource, LLC; Tea Xotics, LLC; and Walters Bay.
Garden to Cup Organics led the championship with the most wins, including four first-place honors, four second place wins and a third place recognition. This new player in the market, driven by seasoned tea experts, is a wholesale supplier of ethically sourced, loose-leaf organic teas based out of Vancouver, British Columbia. The company’s teas are carefully selected, directly from organic tea gardens across the world, and hand-blended in micro-batches to produce the highest quality products. Garden to Cup Organics offers wholesale, custom blending, private and white label opportunities.
“The North American Tea Championship is an excellent platform to showcase quality teas, and we’re thrilled to have received the most wins in this recent evaluation,” said Raj Teja, one of the principals of Garden to Cup Organics. “And the best part of this competition is that it’s independent and judged by professional members of the tea community with stringent standards. For us, the timing of these wins perfectly coincides with the expansion of our distribution across North America.”
NATC Cupping Coordinator Mo Sardella, of The G.S. Haly Company in Redwood City, Calif., noted, “For this competition, there was a noticeable increase in quality and uniqueness within the blended and flavored tea and herbal categories. The flavored and blended products, which are experiencing steady growth within the specialty tea industry, have quickly become the most popular categories at the NATC. Within these categories, the judges noticed a significant increase in custom blends that include good quality specialty teas and herbs, as well as premium ingredients regarding flavoring, decorations and other botanicals. This is a noticeable increase from previous NATC events, in which most blended and flavored products were of varied quality, with less refinement and overall harmony in the finished product.”
All NATC tea submissions were evaluated blind and through organoleptic analysis of the following characteristics: dry leaf, brewed color, brewed aroma, brewed flavor, brewed mouth-feel and brewed harmony. An overall numerical value on a 100-point scale was then calculated based on the ratings of each characteristic. Winners were determined by rank.
“Congratulations to all of the teas that stood out and took first place prizes,” said David De Candia, one of the NATC evaluators and tea buyer at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif. “The North American Tea Championship continues to gain exposure in the marketplace, attracting some of the finest teas for review. Certainly, winners of this competition are experiencing the benefits of being an NATC-winner, such as heightened recognition for quality and taste, additional buyer interest and increased sales.”
A complete list of first, second and third-place winners of the North American Tea Championship is available at teachampionship.com.
North American Tea Championship first-place winners include:
Black Tusk Trading, Blended Oolong Tea, Osmanthus Blossoms
Black Tusk Trading, Traditional Ti Kuan Yin, Ti Kuan Yin Private Reserve
Florapharm Tea, Darjeeling, Organic Darjeeling Jungpana
Florapharm Tea, Earl Grey Tea, Manhattan Natural
Garden to Cup Organics Ltd., Blended Black Tea, Black Rose Garden
Garden to Cup Organics Ltd., Flavored Black Tea, Lychee Black Tea
Garden to Cup Organics Ltd., Jade Ti Kuan Yin, Nanyan Tiequanyin
Garden to Cup Organics Ltd., Yunnan, Yunnan Golden Tip
International Tea Importers, Assam, Mangalam Assam
International Tea Importers, Keemun, Keemun Hao Y
Mountain Tea, Bai Hao/Oriental Beauty, Oriental Beauty
Mountain Tea, Green Oolong Tea, LiShan
Naivetea, Flavored Oolong Tea, Passion Fruit Oolong
Naivetea, Green Jasmine Open Leaf, Jasmin Bao Zhong
Octavia Tea, Dark Oolong Tea, Phoenix Mountain Dancon
QTrade Teas & Herbs, Chai, Sweet Chai
QTrade Teas & Herbs, Green Jasmine Pearl, Jasmine Pearls
Sipping Streams Tea Company, Aged/Baked Oolong Tea, 1999 Muzha Formosa
TeaSource, LLC, Breakfast Blend, Ceylon Lumbini Est. Burning Sun FBOPF
TeaSource, LLC, Black Tea, Jin Jun Mei
Tea Xotics, LLC, Flavored Rooibos Blends, Santa’s Cup
Walters Bay, Black Tea CTC, Walters Bay English Breakfast
Honorees will be featured at the North American Tea Championship Winners Tasting Circle at World Tea Expo (WorldTeaExpo.com), May 29 – 31, 2014 at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, Long Beach, Calif.
The next North American Tea Championship will be held in April 2014 for an evaluation of iced teas. Entries will be accepted in early April. To inquire about entering the competition, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.