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Green Mountain Woes

Share prices of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc., have fallen more than 80% since September partly because its patents on the popular K-Cup single-serving pod are expiring. The K-Cups, which produce one cup of coffee at a time in Green Mountain’s Keurig brewers, are the most profitable segment of the company’s business, accounting for about three-quarters of its net sales. But when the K-Cup patents expire this fall, grocery and retail stores will flood the market with lower-priced, store-brand coffee pods that can be used in Keurig machines and cut into Green Mountain’s earnings. One, Cincinnati-based Kroger, said it would sell its own private-label version of the K-Cup later this year.

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