Is Green Mountain Going After SodaStream or Starbucks?

Is Green Mountain Going After SodaStream or Starbucks?

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters' shares popped 6% higher yesterday on news that the company behind the Keurig java brewing system had filed a trademark application for a maker of carbonated beverages.

This is the kind of news that would normally send SodaStream investors scrambling for cover, but that didn't happen. Shares of SodaStream moved nicely higher on the day.

Are investors smarter than the financial media that's trying to position this as an attack on SodaStream's business?

This isn't really a declaration of war -- when you think about it.

The chances of Keurig being a SodaStream killer are low. The appliance would dilute the Keurig brand, potentially confusing customers. We also can't forget that Keurig is a largely American phenomenon. SodaStream's a global player generating roughly two thirds of its business outside of the United States. Green Mountain owns the stateside single-cup coffee market, but it would be out of its league pushing carbonates overseas.

Green Mountain has more to lose than it could gain in taking SodaStream head on here, so why isn't anyone pointing the finger at Starbucks ?

After all, wasn't it Starbucks that began testing handcrafted carbonated sodas at some of its Seattle stores three months ago. The test expanded to Austin and Atlanta last month.

The danger here for Green Mountain isn't that Starbucks winds up selling a ton of spiced root beer, lemon ale, and ginger ale. No, the real problem here is that Starbucks is also taking advantage of having carbonators at its test stores by offering up fizzed versions of other drinks, including sparkling iced teas, and carbonated versions of the Starbucks Refreshers line that it introduced last summer.

Isn't this why Green Mountain is just trying to get ready with a trademark for a product that may never see the light of day?

The soda test will expand at Starbucks, and with that, we'll see consumer tastes evolve to expect carbonated iced teas. Green Mountain can't ignore that. It has already cashed in on the chilled coffee and iced tea trends that have bled all the way down to fast food chains by introducing its "Brew Over Ice" line of K-Cups that are meant to be dispensed into a cooling cup of ice. If brewed carbonated beverages gain in popularity, Green Mountain will be ready.

SodaStream shouldn't worry about this trademark. If anything, the nascent market for carbonated teas will represent an entirely new product category for it to cash in on.

Something stronger than black coffee
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and SodaStream. The Motley Fool recommends Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, SodaStream, and Starbucks. The Motley Fool owns shares of SodaStream and Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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