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Nestlé sues over Nespresso-styled capsules

The Swiss-based food and beverage giant, Nestlé, has taken legal action against a United States food group for selling Nespresso-compatible coffee capsules.

The Sara Lee Corporation is being prosecuted in France for patent infringement, Nestlé said in a statement on Tuesday. “We appreciate fair competition,” said the group, adding however that it would “always take the necessary steps to defend intellectual property”.

Sara Lee has sold 12 million of its own version of the coffee capsules, named L’Or Espresso, since the product was launched in France two months ago.

A spokesman for Sara Lee in Europe said the company “is confident that our product complies with all legal and regulatory requirements”.

The Swiss group was exposed to more competition, when the Ethical Coffee Co., founded by former Nespresso chief executive Jean-Paul Gaillard launched similar capsules in France.

The Nespresso packaged capsules, used in special coffee machines to brew individual cups of espresso, are Nestlé’s top-selling product.

The unit’s sales rose by 22 per cent to SFr2.77 billion ($2.6 billion) in 2009 and Nestlé is aiming for sales of more than SFr3 billion in 2010.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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