by Mike Masnick
Tue, Aug 26th 2014 2:38pm
by Michael Ho
Tue, Jul 22nd 2014 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- Women who have kids later in life (33+yo) have a higher likelihood of living longer. The researchers note there is no causality here, but that women who are capable of having children in their 30s (and beyond) just seem to live longer as well. [url]
- Being short is not generally a desirable trait, but how about when height inversely correlates with longevity? Several studies show that short people live longer than tall people, and there are some reasons for this correlation -- but don't amputate your feet just yet.... [url]
- Serious coffee drinkers who ingest 4-5 cups of joe per day seem to live longer than people who drink just a cup or less. However, drinking more than 5 cups of coffee has diminishing returns, and the notable catch to this correlation is that non-coffee drinkers actually live longer than coffee lovers. [url]
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jul 9th 2014 8:51am
from the it-has-to-do-with-expired-patents dept
Keurig has now started demonstrating the new system, and it's exactly what everyone feared: a DRM system to make coffee pods more expensive and to keep out competitors' refills.
When the Keurig employee tried to use an old-model pod, one without a new ink marker on the foil top, the brewer wouldn’t run. "Oops!" read a message on the touchscreen display, explaining that the machine only works with specially designed pods and directing the user to a Keurig website and helpline. The employee wouldn’t elaborate on how it worked, except to say that the ink is proprietary and inspired by counterfeiting technology used by the US Mint. Ian Tinkler, Keurig’s vice president of brewer engineering, went into a bit more detail, explaining that an infrared light shines on the ink marking and registers the wavelength of the light reflected back.What about those promised interactive-enabled benefits? As far as I can tell, they appear to be the following:
With its new machine, Keurig is combining its two main product lines, the single-cup brewer and the carafe-brewing Vue.... The anti-counterfeiting system doubles as a way to distinguish between carafe-size pods and regular ones. If the sensor detects the green dot that marks carafe cups, it brews a large pot. If it detects the ring of black symbols on the standard pod, it brews a smaller cup. If it doesn’t detect a Keurig-approved marking at all, it tells you "oops!"Yes, the "interactive-enabled benefits" will apparently maybe kinda save you from having to push a button or flip a switch between "cup" and "carafe." Of course, it could do that same thing without a bogus code designed to block out competitor refills and just compete on the quality of its coffee. But, who wants to do that?
Of course, that story at the Verge also reveals why Keurig/Green Mountain Roasters is really doing all of this:
In September 2012 key patents on its K-Cups expired*Ding* *Ding* *Ding*. We have a winner. None of this has anything to do with safety or benefits. It has to do with doing anything possible to avoid competing in the marketplace. There are lots of ways to play in a market and compete. One is to try to add more value than your competitors. Another is to try to block your competitors by taking away value. I never understand companies that seek to do the latter, but that's what Keurig has decided to do.
by Karl Bode
Thu, Mar 6th 2014 9:31am
from the I-got-this-scar-from-my-coffee-maker dept
Needless to say, Keurig users and the general public weren't particularly enamored of Keurig's plans to lock down their brewing options, with countless users taking to Twitter to complain. The company didn't seem prepared to handle the media reaction to their plans for java-based "DRM." Nor did they seem prepared to give anybody a straight answer, even though their own CEO already confirmed the pod-blocking functionality. As such, Keurig simply started insisting to anyone that asked that the new technology delivered "interactive-enabled benefits":
"To make brewing a carafe possible, and to continue to deliver everything Keurig lovers already enjoy – high-quality beverages, simplicity, and variety – our new Keurig 2.0 system will feature specially designed interactive technology allowing the brewer to read information about the inserted Keurig pack. With this interactive capability, Keurig 2.0 brewers will “know” the optimal settings for the inserted Keurig pack, for a perfect beverage every time, whether a single cup or a carafe. It’s critical for performance and safety reasons that our new system includes this technology. For those of you who currently own our K-Cup or Vue systems today, we are so happy to have you as part of our family. Rest assured that your brewers will still function as they always have and that your favorite beverages will still be available."In other words, we must be able to lock competitors' pods (and manual refill units) out of the market to keep you safe from the dangers of potentially lower costs and dreaded coffee-related injury. It's also impossible for us to embed this obnoxious technology in older units, so those will continue to function as you prefer them to -- without us interfering in your purchase options. Sure, you're losing purchase options and will have to pay more for coffee, but isn't the security of knowing your family is safe from the dangers of coffee-related hazards worth it?
by Karl Bode
Mon, Mar 3rd 2014 5:32am
from the who-wanted-paying-customers-anyway dept
Keurig's solution to this problem? In a lawsuit (pdf) filed against Keurig by TreeHouse Foods, they claim Keurig has been busy striking exclusionary agreements with suppliers and distributors to lock competing products out of the market. What's more, TreeHouse points out that Keurig is now developing a new version of their coffee maker that will incorporate the java-bean equivalent of DRM -- so that only Keurig's own coffee pods can be used in it:
"Green Mountain has announced a new anticompetitive plan to maintain its monopoly by redesigning its brewers to lock out competitors’ products. Such lock-out technology cannot be justified based on any purported consumer benefit, and Green Mountain itself has admitted that the lock-out technology is not essential for the new brewers’ function. Like its exclusionary agreements, this lock-out technology is intended to serve anticompetitive and unlawful ends."The plan was confirmed by Keurig's CEO who stated on a recent earnings call that the new maker indeed won't work with "unlicensed" pods as part of an effort to deliver "game-changing performance." "Keurig 2.0" is expected to launch this fall. French Press and pour-over manufacturers like Chemex have plenty of time to get their thank you notes to Keurig in the mail ahead of time as users are hopefully nudged toward the realization they could be drinking much better coffee anyway.
by Michael Ho
Fri, Feb 21st 2014 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- Civet poop coffee is a delicacy, and you really need to know that your coffee beans have been partially digested by a civet cat from Indonesia. So if you're wondering if your coffee is fake, there's a test that can verify the flavor components of real Kopi Luwak. [url]
- Whelks can refer to any number of unrelated shellfish, but the commonly eaten ones are a particular kind of sea snail of the species Buccinum undatum. Whelks could become the next oyster in the seafood industry, or they could just remain unappetizing snotwinkles, as they're called in Canada. [url]
- In the early 1900s, the US faced "the meat question" -- a crisis over whether or not meat production could match the growing demand for meat products in the US. A seriously debated solution involved importing African hippos to the US -- in the same way that cows, pigs, sheep and poultry were introduced to the Americas -- and trying to convince Americans to eat hippopotamus meat. [url]
Mon, Dec 30th 2013 2:44pm
from the cc:-mr.-bucks dept
This year certainly had its share of ups and downs in terms of lawyerly antics, but in our minds, 2013 shall forever be known as the year of the snarky cease and desist response letter. Back in June, we broke the news of the now famous response to a cease and desist letter received from the Town of West Orange, New Jersey, which went viral worldwide thanks to the power of sarcasm. A few months later, we wrote about an equally entertaining response to a cease and desist letter received from the American Bankers Association, rife with Spice Girls lyrics and Valley girl lingo.
It’s been a while since we wrote about one of these treasures, so we figured we’d close the year out with a bang. We discovered yet another amazing response to a cease and desist letter, and this one may be the greatest of them all — if only because we think its author might have been drunk while writing it….
Jeff Britton, the owner of Exit 6 Pub and Brewery in Cotteville, Missouri, received a cease and desist letter from none other than Starbucks, specifically from Anessa Owen Kramer of Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, over a beer named “Frappicino.” As the world knows, the lords of coffee sell a frozen drink (a coffee Slurpee?) by the name of “Frappuccino.” Yes, the names are similar, but to be confused enough to think you could order the nectar of mall-hopping teenage girls at a bar, you’d have to be pretty drunk.
Rather than cower in fear over the legal consequences threatened by America’s coffee monarch, Britton decided it would be in his best interests to write a response on his own, without the assistance of legal counsel, because he didn’t need no stinkin’ lawyer. Here’s what he posted on the Exit 6 Facebook page:
So quick little story. Last week I received a cease and desist letter from the attorneys at Starbucks. Apparently there was a beer on Untappd that someone named “Frappicino”. 3 people had checked into said beer. 3. Starbucks [didn't] like that. So I got a letter. They wanted me to remove the beer and promise never to use their names again. They also wanted my written response and guarantee. Here is their letter. And also my response.
Needless to say, Britton’s response is amazing — he even threw in some legalese, despite the fact that he’s not a lawyer (oh yeah, heretofore, baby). Here are some highlights from his letter (all errors included in the original). You’d have to be drunk to write something like this, right? Who cares, it’s freakin’ awesome:
Exit 6 has proudly sold at least 38 drinks in Cottleville MO and has a strong presence in St Charles county, a suburb 40 miles outside the St Louis metropolis. It has recently come to Exit 6 Pub and Brewerys attention that there were 3 check ins to the beer with a very similar name to the “F Word”. Unfortunately it was only similar to the F Word because we meant to call it the same thing. Lucky for us, we’re poor spelers.
I would like for both Ms Owen Kramer and Mr Bucks to rest assured we meant no deception, confusion, or mistaking in the naming of the beer F Word. We never thought that our beer drinking customers would have thought that the alcoholic beverage coming out of the tap would have actually been coffee from one of the many, many, many stores located a few blocks away. I guess that with there being a Starbucks on every corner of every block in every city that some people may think they could get a Starbucks at a local bar. So that was our mistake.
Mr. Bucks isn’t Ms. Owen Kramer’s co-counsel; no, this “poor speler” is addressing Mr. Star Bucks himself, as if he were an actual human being. We imagine Britton was at least six Frapps in at this point.
We haven’t even gotten to the best part yet. To show Mr. Bucks just how sorry he really was, Britton enclosed a check in the amount of Exit 6′s profits made from its “Frappicino” beer to be applied to Ms. Owen Kramer’s legal fees, which he admits were “probably … more than Exit 6 made last year.” Here it is:
Behold: the legal equivalent of a mic drop. Cheers to you, Jeff Britton! We raise a glass in your honor.
Thu, Nov 21st 2013 8:06pm
from the cool-beans dept
If you're like me, you'd be surprised to learn how much legal action exists surrounding sweet, sweet java. See, I love coffee. It's what makes my morning routine work, like the on button of my entire day. On the other hand, once I've worked myself up into a caffeine-driven frenzy, I really hate to see overly-aggressive intellectual property actions. Yet that's exactly what I'm dealing with today, reading about how megalithic Starbucks went after a tiny New Hampshire coffee roaster over one of their blends, Charbucks.
"We're just a mom-and-pop little roastery," said Annie Clark, who with her husband, Jim, owns Black Bear Micro Roastery in Tuftonboro. They were sued in 2001 in federal district court in New York by Starbucks, which alleged Black Bear's use of the name "Charbucks" infringed, blurred and tarnished its famous trademarks.So why did Black Bear offer a brew called Charbucks? Well, apparently there's something of a public perception that Starbucks roasted beans appeared to be abnormally dark in color, indicating something or other about their quality. In other words, it was a gentle jab at a Goliath-like company from a roasting David. The name only worked to begin with as a distinction between the quality of Starbucks beans and Black Bear beans. That didn't stop Starbucks from suing for trademark infringement, however, and then following up with an appeal when Black Bear won round one in court. Fortunately, the appeals court agreed with the original ruling.
The appeals court noted that "one of the reasons Black Bear used the term 'Charbucks' was the public perception that Starbucks roasted its beans unusually darkly." But it agreed with the district court in finding minimal similarity and weak evidence of actual association between the brands.In other words, no harm no foul, particularly given that the name of the brew required customers to make a distinction between the brands. Starbucks has since offered some quotes to sound reasonable about their claim, and indeed it appears they were not seeking any monetary damages, but this was still a silly move to begin with. No need to jump at shadows, Starbucks. Perhaps you've been drinking too much of your own coffee.
"Their sales haven't been hurt," Clark said, noting that Black Bear's haven't changed much over the years. "Their growth hasn't been hurt."
by Michael Ho
Fri, Aug 30th 2013 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- According to one study, you're probably drinking too much coffee if you consume more than 28 cups per week. But if you're over 55, it apparently doesn't matter much to your health if you're drinking more than that amount of coffee. So if you're younger than 55 and drinking more than 4 cups every day, you just need to live a little longer and you can drink as much as you want. In fact, some other studies say coffee can lower the risk of premature death. [url]
- If you think that decaffeinated coffee is free of caffeine, think again. Decaf just has lower amounts of caffeine -- 3 to 15 milligrams per cup versus 85 milligrams (or more) for regular coffee. Those milligrams can add up if you're drinking a lot of decaf coffee. [url]
- Conventional wisdom says that pregnant women shouldn't drink coffee (or drink alcohol or eat sushi), but maybe the risks of doing so aren't that high? Better safe than sorry, though, right? [url]
- Even though people have been drinking coffee for centuries, the effect of coffee on our health isn't really clear. Caffeine might not be the only active ingredient in coffee, and studies haven't always separated out the smokers who seem to drink a lot of coffee. [url]
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jun 3rd 2013 4:04pm
from the you-go-twisted-sisters dept
Russell’s letter begins: “Quite honestly when I first received your letter I truly had to go to the site you provided to learn of this band. Sorry. After Elvis, the Beatles and the Beach Boys my love of music leans to country.” She recounts the history of the shop and the name’s origin in a nickname hung on the sisters by their late brother. And she closes: “Right now I am at a loss as to what we could possibly call ourselves that could emulate why we are ’Twisted Sisters Coffee Shop’ with our logo of a tornado coming out of a ruby red coffee cup. We are open to Mr. French’s ideas for us.”I still think she should have used the line "we're not gonna take it; no, we ain't gonna take it; we're not gonna take it, any more..." but perhaps her approach will lead to a more amicable outcome.