Analysis Group Supports Kona Coffee Farmers’ Successful US ‘Appellations of Origin’ Matter
July 22, 2021
Manager Michael Schreck filed an expert report in a Lanham Act settlement proceeding before the US District Court for the Western District of Washington, estimating damages and the value of injunctive relief for a class of Kona coffee farmers who were represented by Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein. The class of Kona coffee farmers – who grow the entire worldwide supply of authentic Kona coffee on farms located in the Kona District of the Big Island of Hawaii – sued coffee distributors, wholesalers, and retailers who allegedly sold ordinary commodity coffee under the Kona name. The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants artificially depressed the market for authentic Kona coffee, harmed the reputation of authentic Kona coffee as a premium product, and caused consumer confusion as to legitimate sources of Kona coffee.
Dr. Schreck filed an expert report estimating a $37.9 million increase in plaintiffs’ profits stemming from the settlement’s proposed injunctive relief. Describing Dr. Schreck’s analytical approach as a “reliable methodology,” Judge Robert S. Lasnik approved a favorable $51 million settlement comprising a $13.1 million cash settlement and the injunctive provisions valued by Dr. Schreck, which require new labeling standards for coffee retailers that sell Kona coffee.