Switzerland’s Ethical Coffee Company has filed a lawsuit in Paris against Nespresso for infringing on its patent by allegedly building a “harpoon” device in machines to prevent off-brand espresso pods from being used.
According to The Local, Ethical Coffee Company is headed by former Nespresso chief executive Jean-Paul Gaillard. It makes less expensive coffee pods that can be used in a Nespresso machine, but now, according to the lawsuit, Nespresso has allegedly been modifying its machines with a “harpoon” device that causes capsules that are not Nespresso brand pods to jam in the machines. According to Ethical Coffee Company, the alleged pod sabotage violates its patent and has cost it 150 million euros, or $174 million, since 2010.
Ethical Coffee Company says the results of the suit in Paris would only apply in France, but that it could file similar suits in other countries. Nespresso said there was no patent infringement, and it was prepared to address the matter in court.