Denner wins capsule ruling over Nespresso

Swiss discount supermarket chain Denner can resume selling its brand of Nespresso-compatible coffee capsules across Switzerland following a ruling by a trade tribunal in the canton of Saint Gallen.

Denner wins capsule ruling over Nespresso
Nespresso coffee machine. Photo: AFP

The court overturned a decision that prevented Denner, a subsidiary of retail giant Migros, from selling its capsules after Nestlé lodged a complaint over infringement of its trademarked Nespresso products.

In its ruling, made public on Tuesday, the trade tribunal said Denner’s capsules did not infringe on the trademarked product.

The judges recognized that Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, had the legal right to protect its Nespresso capsules.

However, they ruled that there was no risk of confusion between these capsules and those of Denner, according to a news release issued by the tribunal.

The legal battle between Denner and Nestlé began at the beginning of 2011 when the Vaud-based food giant launched legal action to protect its Nespresso brand, which sells four billion francs’ worth of products annually.

The multinational could appeal the tribunal’s decision to the supreme court.

But in a news release issued on Tuesday night, Nespresso said that it would not take any immediate action in response to the ruling.

The Nestlé subsidiary said the decision maintained the status quo and had no impact on the competitive environment that exists in the current (coffee capsule) market.

Nestlé has taken widespread legal action to defend its coffee capsules against competitors, such as the Ethical Coffee Company, a firm based in Fribourg and started by former Nespresso CEO Jean-Paul Gaillard.

The ECC’s capsules are provisionally banned from sale in Switzerland, following a ruling from Switzerland’s supreme court in February.

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‘Unlimited resources’: Switzerland’s Nestle goes vegan

Swiss food giant Nestle, which has made billions with dairy products, said Monday it will host start-ups that want to develop vegetarian alternatives.

'Unlimited resources': Switzerland's Nestle goes vegan

Nestle could thus find itself at the forefront of a sector that has strong growth potential, an analyst commented.

It plans to open its research and development (R&D) centre in Konolfingen, Switzerland to “start-ups, students and scientists” a statement said.

In addition to testing sustainable dairy products, the group plans to encourage work on plant-based dairy alternatives, it added.

Chief executive Mark Schneider was quoted as saying that “innovation in milk products and plant-based dairy alternatives is core to Nestle's portfolio strategy.”

The group unveiled a vegetable-based milk that had already been developed with the process, and technical director Stefan Palzer told AFP it planned to focus on 100-200 such projects a year.

Jon Cox, an analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux, noted that while Nestle had missed some consumer trends in the past, it has now “taken something of a lead in the plant-based alternative market for food”.

And “given its pretty much unlimited resources, Nestle is going to come out one of the winners in the space,” Cox forecast in an e-mail.

Nestle said that “internal, external and mixed teams” would work at the R&D centre over six-month periods.

Nestle would provide “expertise and key equipment such as small to medium-scale production equipment to facilitate the rapid upscaling of products for a test launch in a retail environment,” it added.

The Swiss food giant has long been known for its dairy products, but faced a boycott in the 1970s for allegedly discouraging mothers in developing countries from breastfeeding even though it was cheaper and more nutritious than powdered formula.

On Monday, the group's statement also underscored that the research initiative was part of its commitment to help fight global warming.

“As a company, we have set ambitious climate goals. This is part of our promise to develop products that are good for you and good for the planet,” it said.