On 17 April 2014, the French Competition Authority (FCA)
announced that Nespresso has offered commitments to end an
investigation into allegedly abusive and exclusive practices that
had the effect of foreclosing competing manufacturers of coffee
capsules from Nespresso's coffee machines.
In France, 73% of the capsule-coffee machines were sold by
Nespresso and 85% of the capsules compatible with these machines
were sold by Nespresso in 2012.
The commitments follow complaints to the FCA by two producers of
compatible capsules, D.E. Master Benders and the Ethical Coffee
Company, claiming that Nespresso had engaged in anticompetitive
practices, including by tying the purchase of its capsules to that
of its coffee machines. As a result of the investigation, the FCA
reached a preliminary finding that Nespresso's conduct in
successively altering the specifications of its coffee machines to
make the use of competitors' compatible capsules more
difficult, as well as by engaging in other exclusionary commercial
practices (such as placing on its machine, on its packaging and in
its instruction manual comments dissuading consumers from using
third-party compatible capsules) could be viewed as an abuse of
To address these concerns, Nespresso offered three sets of
commitments to the FCA, which would be valid for a seven-year
The technical modifications made to Nespresso machines that
might affect the compatibility of third-party capsules must be
provided on demand to producers of such capsules at least three
months before a new machine is placed on the market;
The warranty terms of the machine will be modified. To avoid
liability, Nespresso has the burden of proving that the damage to
its machine is caused by a third-party capsule; and
Nespresso will implement a compliance programme to ensure that
it does not otherwise discourage consumers from using third-party
The FCA is accepting comments until 19 May 2014.
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