Starbucks Won't Block African Coffee Trademarks

Last Updated Aug 20, 2007 6:49 PM EDT

Honor Your Committments to Ethiopian Coffee FarmersStarbucks has settled its dispute over the Ethiopian government's move to trademark its Sidamo and Harrar variety coffee beans -- a dispute that's given rise to damaging negative publicity. Ethiopia and Oxfam, an international aid organization, charged that Starbucks had attempted to block the trademark filing. Ethiopia trademarked its Yirgacheffe variety in 2006, and the name protection affords the country's farmers more leverage in purchasing negotiations. A Reuters article by Dana Ford reports:
Dr. Samuel Assefa, the Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States, praised Starbucks. "What we have learned in our dealings with Starbucks over the last several months is that the company listens to its stakeholders' concerns and is attentive to the plight of the poor farmers who produce the finest specialty coffees in the world," he said. In theory, the trademark agreement could boost income for Ethiopian farmers by allowing the country to negotiate purchasing conditions for coffee roasters or retailers that want to use that name.
The settlement is likely to give Starbucks a of much-needed boost in positive publicity.

(Image of Starbucks Store by net_efekt, CC 2.0)