Starbucks and the Government of Ethiopia have reached an agreement over the licensing, distribution and marketing of speciality Ethiopian coffee brands.
When signed later this month, the Ethiopian government will look to copyright and trademark three coffee types: Harar, Sidamo and Yirgacheffe, as well as retaining their existing sales collaborations with Starbucks.
The two parties have been locked in talks after UK charity Oxfam claimed that Starbucks had complained to the National Coffee Association (NCA) in the USA after the Ethiopian government attempted to trademark the three coffees in a US court.
Starbucks has constantly denied this claim.
Oxfam said that if the NCA were to define the terms under which the coffee was sold it would deny the Ethiopian economy £47m a year.
Raymond Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, said: "We] eagerly await the final agreement and long overdue recognition of these coffees as unique and valued products of Ethiopia's coffee farmers."
Getachew Mengistie, Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office (EIPO) director general, said: "We realise our approach to trade-marking and licensing these coffee brands that originate in and represent the best of Ethiopia's coffee heritage is new but believe it meets the needs of small Ethiopian fine coffee farmers and traders."
By Christopher Walton
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