Ethiopia seeks to brand, trademark signature coffee

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Addis Ababa, 20 August 2014 (WIC) - Ethiopia, Africa's largest coffee grower, is set to continue talks with global buyers in hopes of branding and trademarking its world-renowned coffee and boosting national revenue.

"The objective of the negotiations is to prevent illegal coffee trade, unfair price fixing and profiteering involving Ethiopian coffee brands in the world market," Teshome Sileshi of Ethiopia's Intellectual Property Office told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.

He said 15 million Ethiopians directly or indirectly involved in coffee production receive less than 10 percent of the retail price from coffee sales while the rest goes to international middle men and distributors.

"So far, 34 countries have recognized and registered brands and trademarks for globally popular and on-demand varieties… grown in south and eastern Ethiopia," he said.

"Twenty-seven of the stated countries are members of the European Union, while the rest include India, Japan, Canada, the U.S., Saudi Arabia, China and South Africa," he added.

According to Sileshi, applications have been submitted to Australia and Brazil to brand and trademark Ethiopian coffee products, but, he said, "They haven't responded yet."

"The negotiation will continue drawing experiences from two consultant companies: Light Years IP and Arnold & Porter LLP," Sileshi said.

Coffee is one of Ethiopia's top-earning export crops.

Africa's largest coffee producer, Ethiopia generated some $719 million from coffee exports during the 2013/14 financial year.