A Bitter Brew


Ethiopian coffee farmers hope to earn more with a U.S. trademark

U.K.-based charity Oxfam last week accused Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks of blocking Ethiopian efforts to trademark three types of coffee beans in the U.S. Starbucks denies this, but the controversy continues to percolate.

What does Ethiopia want? The Ethiopian government applied to trademark its most famous coffee-bean names — Harar, Sidamo and Yirgacheffe — in the U.S. last year. The Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office estimates that controlling the names of the beans could earn Ethiopia an extra $88 million a year.

How so? Owning the names, Ethiopia reasons, will enable it to build...

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