Friday, September 26, 2008

Stealing Ethiopia's birthright

"To combat this destitution, the Ethiopian government decided in early 2005 to pursue an innovative strategy: it wanted to trademark, or brand, the names Harar/Harrar, Sidamo, and Yirgacheffe to command a greater share of the prices that its best coffees fetched at the retail end in the global north. With trademarks, the country could charge distributors a licensing fee for their use. The European Union, Japan, and Canada all approved this trademark scheme. But when the Ethiopian intellectual property office approached the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register Sidamo, they were surprised to discover that something called Shirkina Sun-Dried Sidamo was already in the pipeline. Starbucks had gotten there ahead of Ethiopia, and the patent office refused to consider another trademark that included Sidamo." (Thanks Marcy)

Read this long article, it is fascinating

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