Keurig coffee makers have DRM so only approved pods will work. Is it legal to circumvent this DRM and use "unauthorized" pods?

  • Lexmark tried this with ink cartridges and lost. Do you violate Keurigs copyright?
    – gnasher729
    Jul 9, 2022 at 12:16
  • 1
    That was Lexmark’s problem. They didn’t read the DMCA law, they only read “DRM … circumvention … illegal … yadayadayada”. They tried to get copyright in. Their printers (roughly) only accepted ink cartridges that said “I am an original Lexmark printer cartridge”. So all the cloned cartridges said that, which was deemed not copyright violation, because the text had to be necessarily exactly that text.
    – gnasher729
    Jul 10, 2022 at 6:26
  • 1
    Does DRM = Digital Rights Management? A container of coffee grounds is not "digital" anything... Jul 11, 2022 at 5:34
  • 2
    Again, this question is about a coffee maker... Jul 11, 2022 at 15:33
  • 1
    Someone, it doesn’t matter whether a protection can be circumvented “easily”.
    – gnasher729
    Aug 14, 2022 at 9:25

2 Answers 2


TL;DR: Yes, it's legal.

  1. There is no patent nor copyright infringement when consumers use third party coffee pods or modify their appliance to accept those pods.
  2. There may be antitrust infringement when companies take steps to block consumers from using third party consumables like coffee pods.

It's not just legal, Keurig paid $31 million to settle a lawsuit over claims their attempts to block people from using third-party pods violated antitrust law.

The Supreme Court confirmed consumers' right to use a product however they like once it has been purchased in a very related 2016 case about printer cartridges:

The Supreme Court decided 7-1 in favor of Impression on both counts, ruling that once a company has sold a product, it can’t dictate how the product is used—meaning that consumers have free rein to refurbish, repair, or resell items they’ve lawfully bought. “The purchaser and all subsequent owners are free to use or resell the product just like any other item of personal property, without fear of an infringement lawsuit,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority opinion.


According to Fortinet.com Cybergolssary:

Digital rights management (DRM) is the use of technology to control and manage access to copyrighted material. Another DRM meaning is taking control of digital content away from the person who possesses it and handing it to a computer program.

As you acknowledge in your first comment, there is nothing copyrightable about a coffee pod. Nor is it digital content, therefore DRM is irrelevant.

Kuerig, as well as other companies, market a product that uses proprietary consumable components of a form that only their product will work with. However, there is nothing illegal about you circumventing their attempt to sell you more of their coffee. It is your coffee maker, do with it as you please...

  • 2
    If keurig prints a poem on their pods, that would be copyrightable so other pod makers better not print that poem. Except if the coffee machine has a scanner that checks for this poem and refuses to use pods without it, then the poem suddenly becomes functional and loses copyright protection.
    – gnasher729
    Aug 14, 2022 at 9:30
  • @gnasher729, I hope you are kidding… Aug 14, 2022 at 14:38
  • yes, the whole idea is ridiculous, but Keurig makes a lot of money from these pods and will try to keep that money to themselves. The failed "copyright" hack is exactly what Lexmark tried with printers. It failed because some text that could have been copyrighted was required to make other manufacturer's printer cartridges print, and because it was required to make this cartridges print, copying that text became legal.
    – gnasher729
    Aug 16, 2022 at 13:36

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .