Wednesday 18 February 2009

Asiimwe Paul

Ethiopia to Protect Limu & Lekempte as trademarks

In a move that emphasizes the importance placed on protecting any aspects of Ethiopia's famed coffee brands, the government there has decided to file for trademark protection over its Limu & Lekempte coffee brands. Ethiopia already has trademark protection over its lead brands, Yirgacheffe and Sidamo

The New Vision newspaper in Uganda reports that "The Ethiopian Intellectual Property Rights Office(EIPRO) has embarked on efforts to secure trademark certificates for Limu and Lekempte coffees during the 21st American Specialty Coffee Conference" - words attributed to Mr.Alemu Abebe EIPRO's director.

Ethiopia gained alot of press attention over the past couple of years due to its bare knuckle fight with Starbucks Coffee over the Yirgacheffe and Sidamo trademarks. It is not apparent as to whether those opposed to Ethiopia's use of the trademark system to protect what appear to be geographical indications will file opposition proceedings against the marks.

Overall, Ethiopia through its enthusiastic embrace of the trademark system shows how Intellectual property can to some extent be leveraged to promote the culture and unique products of developing countries in the rough and tumble struggle for markets.

Asiimwe Paul

Asiimwe Paul

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Write comments
18 February 2009 at 22:40 delete

I enjoyed your post; this kind of news distinguishes AFRO IP and why I've been following you for some months.

A bit of constructive criticism, which I hope you don't mind: Ethiopian efforts seem very complex and very consequential and yet written about very much from a surface perspective, never going much beyond the tool of trademark, which it seem is 10% of the story.

As a Western follower of African IP developmnets, I can read between the lines that it's a very rare case of an African IP owner trying to control a massive distribution system in places such as US, EU, Japan, and others. Maybe the only one. It seems that what Ethiopians are building is a global licensing network as big and as complex as one built by Nestle, Intel, or Louis Vutton.

Ethiopian decision has also many consequences for the coffee sector and how these assets are maneged within Ethiopia. Sometimes and indirectly a news item filters that confirms activity within Ethiopia closley linked to this IP strategy but maybe not obviously related to the very law-not-business-oriented notion of "IP."

Afro IP would seem like the ideal place for both the big picture and many illuminating details. I remain hopeful.

Just a thought by one of your readers and a fans. Keep up the good work.

19 February 2009 at 00:46 delete

Dear Anonymous, thanks so much for your comment. If we members of the Afro-IP team can only get hold of more information, we can write about it. The trade mark sector in Ethiopia is highly visible and well-documented following the battle with Starbucks, but it is very difficult to obtain publicly-available information concerning many of the other sectors in which Ethiopia is working to develop its infrastructure through the use of IP devices.
If you find any news or materials that you think we should know about, please let us know!