Starbucks opposes Ethiopia’s plan to trademark speciality coffee names that could bring farmers an estimated £47 million annually

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Article
28 October 2006

Ethiopia, Starbucks disputing over coffee trademark

Author: Ethiopian Reporter

US coffee chain Starbucks is denying Ethiopia earnings of up to USD 88 million a year, the charity Oxfam claimed this week. According to reports, Oxfam said that Starbucks asked the National Coffee Association (NCA) to block Ethiopia's bid to trademark two types of coffee bean in the US. The move would have given farmers a greater share of profits, it claims. But Starbucks denies approaching the NCA, and the association says Ethiopia is being badly advised and there is no economic case to back Oxfam's views.

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Article
27 October 2006

Oxfam responds to National Coffee Association and Starbucks

Author: Oxfam

In response to Oxfam’s announcement that...Starbucks has opposed a plan by Ethiopia to gain more control over its coffee trade, Starbucks claimed that it has never filed an opposition to the Ethiopian government's trademark applications, nor claimed ownership to any names used to describe the origin of its coffees. Oxfam responded by saying that Starbucks did prompt the National Coffee Association (NCA), of which it is a leading member, to file an opposition to the applications, which is the reason the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) gave for rejecting them. At a meeting held this past July at the Ethiopian Embassy, Embassy staff and advisers met with the NCA president to discuss a letter of protest filed against Ethiopia’s trademark applications. Ethiopian Embassy staff asked the NCA President what had prompted the NCA to file the opposition after more than year of silence on the issue. The NCA President responded that Starbucks had just brought it to the NCA's attention. It is therefore disingenuous for Starbucks to claim they were not responsible for the application being blocked.

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Article
27 October 2006

Starbucks costing coffee farmers millions, Oxfam claims

Author: Derek Cheng, New Zealand Herald

Global coffee giant Starbucks is denying Ethiopian coffee-farmers of [NZ]$132 million [US$88 million] a year by refusing them ownership of their coffee brands, international agency Oxfam says. The Ethiopian government filed applications to trademark its famous coffee names Sidamo, Harar and Yirgacheffe in the US, Canada, Japan and European Union countries. But while coffee bodies in the other countries have given Ethiopia ownership of its brands, it is claimed Starbucks opposed it through the US National Coffee Association, of which it is a leading member. The US Patent and Trademark Office subsequently denied the trademark applications... Starbucks...said in a statement it had offered to help the Ethiopian Government in developing a certification program. Starbucks had never filed an opposition to the trademark application, the statement said.

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Article
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Author: El Economista [España]

La ONG Oxfam...denunció hoy que la cadena...Starbucks se opone a que Etiopía registre los nombres de sus propias variedades de café, lo que significaría un ingreso extra estimado de 88 millones de dólares anuales (69,5 millones de euros) para sus agricultores, ante lo que la organización pide a la compañía "revisar su estrategia y firmar un acuerdo de licencia con el país africano"...Starbucks por su parte elevó una protesta para que la solicitud del país africano no fuera aceptada por la Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) de Estados Unidos. Este organismo rechazó la petición de Etiopía para registrar los nombres de 'Sidamo' y 'Harar', creando serios obstáculos al proyecto, según Oxfam...Si Etiopía logra registrar las marcas de sus cafés, los agricultores podrían ganar más por vender sus productos...lo que representaría una diferencia "abismal" en la vida de algunas de las personas más pobres del planeta...

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Article
26 October 2006

Starbucks opposes Ethiopia’s plan to trademark speciality coffee names that could bring farmers an estimated £47 million annually

Author: Oxfam

Global coffee giant Starbucks has opposed a plan by Ethiopia to gain more control over its coffee trade and a larger share of the earnings for millions of coffee farmers living in poverty, international agency Oxfam revealed today. Last year the Ethiopian government filed applications to trademark its most famous coffee names, Sidamo, Harar and Yirgacheffe. Securing the rights to these names would enable Ethiopia to capture more value from the trade, by controlling their use in the market and thereby enabling farmers to receive a greater share of the retail price...Starbucks prompted protests against the applications to be filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The USPTO has denied Ethiopia’s applications for Sidamo and Harar, creating serious obstacles for its project.

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Article
26 October 2006

Starbucks Sets the Record Straight On Press Coverage Regarding Starbucks, the Ethiopian Government and Oxfam

Author: Starbucks

Starbucks Coffee Company wants to set the record straight on inaccurate press coverage regarding Starbucks, the Ethiopian Government and Oxfam. We are recognized as a positive force to the Ethiopian coffee farmer. In Ethiopia, just as in all the countries where we buy coffee, we pay premium prices. Between 2002 and 2006 we increased our Ethiopian coffee purchases by 480 percent and increased the price we paid for Ethiopian coffee by approximately 50 percent. This month, we have directly suggested ideas to the Ethiopian Government to help sell their coffees and increase consumer awareness as an alternative to their trademark application. We have never filed an opposition to the Ethiopian government’s trademark application, nor claimed ownership to any regional names used to describe the origin of our coffees...

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