February 6, 2007

Starbucks and The Ethiopians - A Decent Alternative

roastmagazine.jpgI don’t know about you, but I have heard a lot about how Starbucks has been blocking the poor Ethiopian farmers from trade marking the names of their coffees, thus precluding them from making money. While that may sum up one lopsided version of the truth, I found a well-written view of what’s happening in Roast Magazine, by the editor Shanna Germain. I like the fact that she took a look at what was going on, and laid out what is a decent alternative that would actually have the Ethipian government registering Harrar and Sidamo as growing regions that would become certification marks and not Trademarks. She says, “Certification marks, such as Jamaican Blue Mountain and 100-percent Kona, identify the coffee’s source by indicating the nature and quality of the coffee and by affirming that the coffee has met certain standards. Geographic indications serve similar functions as trademarks by guaranteeing quality, identifying source and ideally increasing the value of the product.”

To me it seems like Starbucks and others are happy to pay living wages for quality coffee, and by doing so, they would qualify for a “Certification Mark” for these growing regions. Folks would not want to pay for licensing a “trademark” that they themselves had already put a lot of money behind to help establish on their own.

ReadMore at Roast Magazine

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Posted by Scott Martin at February 6, 2007 9:39 AM
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