Saturday, February 17, 2007

The coffee lobbyists

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1208 17/02/2007
Two Washington firms are supporting the government of Addis Ababa in its fight against Starbucks to have Ethiopian coffee recognised internationally.

The Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office (EIPO) can count on the support of the lobbyists of the American legal firm Arnold & Porter LLP to argue for the rights of Ethiopian coffee against Starbucks. One of this firm’s partners, Robert Winter, based in Washington, is acting for Ethiopian efforts to register Ethiopian coffee brands around the world. Another of the firm’s partners, Ramon P. Marks, a former marine and a member of Business Executives for National Security (BENS), went to Ethiopia in October 2006 as part of a visit organised by this American association.

The other mainstay of the Ethiopian campaign to have its coffee brands recognised is the Washington based NGO Light Years IP (LYIP). This was created in 1999 by the consultant Ron Layton and is working to help Ethiopian coffee producers increase their share of the world market. This activity has been funded for the last two years by the British Department For International Development (DFID).

Black Gold: Wake up and smell the coffee