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Senseo is a registered trademark for a coffee brewing system from Dutchmarker companies Philips and Douwe Egberts, a subsidiary of Sara Lee Corporation. The three main characteristics of the system are its coffee pods (called pads in some countries), its design and its easy to use system.

History

The system was first introduced in the Netherlandsmarker in February 2001, followed by Belgiummarker and Francemarker, Germanymarker/Austriamarker/and Denmarkmarker, United Kingdommarker and United Statesmarker, and Australia (in chronological order). The Senseo was technically developed by WeLL Design.

A new model of the Senseo machine – the Senseo New Generation – was launched in selected markets in 2007. This updated version allows the user to adjust the height of the mechanism to accommodate larger cups or mugs, has an indicator light function which shows when there is insufficient water for two cups (as opposed to the previous model which only showed whether there was sufficient water left for one cup), features a larger water reservoir and has an option which allows the user to adjust the amount of hot water used per cup.

The Senseo Latte Select machine was introduced in 2008, and features a separate milk reservoir. The machine utilizes the same coffee pods, and can produce three different variants of coffee with foam milk: Cappucino, Café Latte and Latte macchiato. The three variants are not true brews though, as the machine cannot produce real espresso, but rather regular coffee, which is mixed with the foam milk. The machine can also produce regular coffee, and features three different strength settings.

Blends

The main blends are mild, regular, mocca and dark roast and there is also a decaffeinated variety. The blends differ, according to general taste, in different countries. The special blends, Colombia, Kenya and Brazil are blended from arabica coffees from selected plantations and are a little more expensive than the normal blends. There are also coffee pods with added flavors, called Vienna, Rio de Janeiro, Sevilla & Marrackech. More recent varieties launched in selected European markets include cappuccino, café choco and espresso. Douwe Egberts Senseo has launched a Hot Choco variety in Belgium and the Netherlands. Latest launches in Germany are the Guten Morgen breakfast blend and Caffé Crema, an Italian blend. In France, Maison du café Senseo has launched Noir Subtil.

Patent matters

A European patent application with the aim "to protect an assembly of pad holder and pad", i.e. the Senseo coffee pods, was filed on September 30, 1998 by the Dutch firm "Sara Lee/DE N.V." The European Patent Office granted on July 11, 2001. The European patent took force in a number of Contracting States of the European Patent Convention, including Belgium.

On February 20, 2004, the Court of First Instance of Antwerpmarker, Belgiummarker, ruled in a lawsuit between three Belgian coffee vendors, N.V. Fort Koffiebranderij, S.A. Cafés Liégeois and N.V. Beyers Koffie, versus Philips and Douwe Egberts over the European patent, and decided that the other coffee vendors were allowed to produce and market coffee pods that fit the Senseo. The Senseo creators had used their patent to get an injunction against the marketing of coffee pods by other coffee brands, and those others replied by seeking a declaratory judgment of non-infringement.

One consideration the Belgian judge offered for the ruling is that coffee pods already existed. That ruling ended the Senseo coffee pod monopoly, and following that ruling, practically every coffee vendor in the Benelux countries started production of coffee pods. The Antwerp ruling affects the patents on the pods, but does not affect the patents on the Senseo machine itself.

An appeal in court changed this patent matter, and the new judgement was that the other coffee makers were infringing on the European patent in Belgium.

In the meantime, the European patent was opposed before the European Patent Office by a number of companies including Kraft Foods and, on August 30, 2006, Sara Lee's covering the Senseo pads was completely revoked on appeal by the European Patent Office. Suzanne Rotteveel, spokeswoman for Sara Lee in the Netherlands, said:

References

  1. WeLL Design werd verzocht het Senseo project uit te voeren
  2. [1] Senseo New Generation at the Dutch Senseo website
  3. Bird & Bird, Bird & Bird helps win 5 year European coffee war. Dutch manufacturers triumph in patent battle against Sara Lee relating to Senseo coffee system. Press Release, August 31, 2006. Retrieved on September 3, 2006.
  4. "Douwe Egberts Regains Monopoly to Comercialise Coffee Pads for its Senseo Coffee Machines", Van Bael & Bellis on Belgian Business Law, volume 2005, No. 12, page 7


See also



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