Keurig 2.0, also known as “Keurig tries to lock out rival pod-coffee suppliers by applying DRM to its new machines”, has seemingly hit a stumbling block, with the lock-down system apparently already cracked by rival brands. The system, revealed back in May and a feature on Keurig’s current range, borrows from the printer ink market in preventing brewers from working with unlicensed pods and instead forcing them to buy Keurig’s “approved” supplies.
Unsurprisingly, for all Keurig argued that the system was in the best interest of owners, few proved convinced. Keurig’s attitude is that by ensuring only approved pods work, coffee drinkers will get the most predictable cup from their machine.
In the process, however, third-party pods would be effectively locked out of the system, in fact limiting the choices for users.
Those concerns may have all been circumnavigated with news that several pod suppliers have apparently worked around the Keurig 2.0 DRM. Both Mother Parkers – responsible for pods under the Tim Hortons and Martinson Coffee brands, among others – and TreeHouse – which offers the Grove Square range – have announced that they’ll be offering supplies that work with the system.
It’s unclear exactly whether either company has come to some sort of agreement with Keurig, effectively licensing the 2.0 DRM technology, or have in fact simply hacked the system of printed markings on the foil tops of the pods.
If it’s a hack, it puts Keurig in the position of having to sue third-party pod manufacturers in order to get them to stop. That’s not going to be easy, but given the amount of money tied up in the pod-coffee industry each year, the brewer manufacturer may decide it’s worth it anyway.
Keurig held the patents to K-Cups up until two years ago, but the market opened up and third-party suppliers swiftly stepped in. Keurig 2.0 was in part an approach to address that, but also allows for whole-pot brewing, producing 30oz pots.