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Coffee and Intellectual Property 198

Posted by timothy
from the it-puts-the-coffee-lotion-(tm)-on-its-skin dept.
cervesaebraciator writes "A 'Coffee Branding Workshop,' sponsored by the World Intellectual Property Organization, was held recently in Arusha City, at which the Director General of the Tanzania Coffee Board presented a paper titled 'Supporting the Coffee Sector with added Value Products Through Intellectual Property and Branding.' The paper encouraged the use of intellectual property claims, including trademarks, copyrights, patents, and designs, as sources of income which can be used to support agriculture in Africa. The Director General claimed that '[Intellectual property rights] are the basis for today's knowledge based economy and international competitiveness.' This is no doubt related to a broader effort to advance western style intellectual property in Africa through claims of the benefits it offers agriculture. Promoting western style intellectual property law as a means of third world development is a popular strategy for WIPO, the only branch of the UN to have significant wealth deriving from contributions independent of Member States. On a related note of interest to Slashdotters, there is a history of tension between WIPO advocates and FOSS advocates." I hope they take advantage of the marketing possibilities offered by civet-processed coffee.
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Coffee and Intellectual Property

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 18, 2012 @10:15PM (#42023519)

    There is NO SUCH THING as "intellectual property". It's a farce. I, for one, am looking forward to a left-leaning "creative commons" Star Trek like world where profit means little, and the freedy people (Ferengi) are forbidden interlopers.

    • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Sunday November 18, 2012 @10:30PM (#42023593) Homepage Journal

      where profit means little, and the freedy people (Ferengi) are forbidden interlopers

      Profit is just a price signal, it sends information. The problem with IP is that it gives governments an excuse to oppress the freedoms of the masses to reward the few.

      Besides, Star Trek governments execute people who build robots. It's not all sunshine and roses there.

      • ... then someone else will try to patent tea, guava juice, soybean milk, coconut juice .... ... and ultimately someone will patent water.

        Can you imagine the final outcome ?

        • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @11:00PM (#42023751)
          I patent water distributed in/consumed from a handheld device.
        • by TapeCutter (624760) on Monday November 19, 2012 @04:37AM (#42025009) Journal
          That is not what is being proposed, what you have is a slippery slope argument (AKA, logical fallacy). Soooo, what's your solution to the real problem? - By that I mean, if I spend millions advertising "Fair Trade coffee" why should someone who has not spent a penny be able to use my trademark to sell coffee produced by child slaves? How about medical supplies? The problem in Africa with medical supplies is not generic medicine that actually works, it's FAKE medicine in branded packaging, mainly imported from India and China, ie: what could possibly go wrong if a middleman fills the bags with tap water rather than saline solution?

          A brand or trademark is basically the same as a signature, it uniquely identifies who to praise/blame. At the end of the day the only reason anyone copies other people's trademark/signature is because their own trademark/signature is worthless. Why is it worthless? - Could it be because they have not invested the effort required to make it worth something?

          Do people who issue trademarks make bad decisions? Sure, I'm still pissed we allowed the Yanks to trademark "Ugg Boots" in the 90's when small Aussie businesses had been commonly advertising sheep skin boots as "Ugg Boots" for at least 20yrs. However poor decisions by themselves do not invalidate the basic premise that I have a "natural right"* to my mark as something that uniquely identifies who I am and what I do. The ingredients and service you get with my espresso in my (imaginary) cafe may be exactly the same thing as the guy next door, but that's not the point. The point (and the moral) is that you should not pretend to be someone or something that you are not, from a purely moral POV using someone else's trademark is clearly fraudulent behaviour.

          * - Natural right: As in, a dog has a natural right (and urge) to mark a tree in a way that makes the owner of the mark crystal clear to all other dogs who visit that tree.
          • by silentcoder (1241496) on Monday November 19, 2012 @05:20AM (#42025183) Homepage

            But you're actually making part of our argument for us. There is no such thing as "intellectual property" and when people use the word they conflate a number of laws wanting us to think of them as similar when in fact they have almost nothing in common.
            Copyright - automatic, lasts a long time, applies to execution of ideas only.
            Patents - not automatic, lasts a relatively short time, applies to ideas themselves rather than to execution
            Trademark - not automatic, lost if not defended, can last indefinitely - applies to neither ideas nor execution.

            In fact trademarks are not a law of benefit to trademark holders at all (at least not in it's intention), it's intention is to be a consumer protection law - so that when you buy something you can trust it's the real thing (what you describe is a case for proper trademark enforcement which most FOSS people have no problem with whatsoever - indeed I've never met one who did).

            These things are radically different sets of laws with completely different goals and implement in very different (often completely contradictory) manners. Trademarks can't be called a property by any reasonable measure and in fact unlike the others cannot be said to even enable market-forming, they are purely there to protect consumer's interests - not those of trademark HOLDERS but those of ordinary citizens. They are also highly restricted because they apply to words - so they don't get turned into a form of censorship. This is why a trademark is limited to a certain field of endeavour (a trademark on the name windows in computing cannot be enforced on companies that make glass panes to fit into holes in your wall or vice versa), and why they are lost if not defended and if (despite defending them) they become common-usage terminology (this is why Johnson and Johnson lost the trademark on "band-aid", "kleenex" was lost in the same way).

            There is no way to lose your copyright before it expires. You can sue somebody for violating a patent even if a billion other people did it and you never sued any of them before.

            See - these things are completely separate things and should be discussed and debated separately. When we discuss patent reform, throwing copyright into the discussion will only confuse the issue since they are almost entirely opposite in their structure. If we discuss trade-mark enforcement we have literally NOTHING to gain by conflating patent and copyright issues with that.
            I live in Africa and I've lived through some of the problems you describe. I contracted malaria in Nigeria and know the fear of wondering whether the malaria tablets the doctor prescribed and the pharmacy sold me are actually the real thing or just repackaged aspirins. I'm in favor of strong trademark enforcement to prevent such things. At the same time I'm in favor of radical patent reform and possibly even abolishment.
            I really hope my country remains firm and refuses to allow software patents forever, because that is a MAJOR industrial advantage for us. A US company cannot sue us for patent infringement (which every program in the world does) but we COULD sue them - and since they cannot then blackmail us - they leave us alone. We're one of the last countries where a software company doesn't have to compile a huge stockpile of patents just to survive.

    • by bhcompy (1877290) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @10:53PM (#42023721)
      Star Trek is fictional. Roddenberry made a shit ton of money off his intellectual property, which he fiercely guarded.
    • by star trek world, you obviously mean Next Generation, where the ferengi apear.

      as much as I'd love to agree with you, thev'e banned alcohol in favor of synathol.

      Star Trek TNG was more a politically correct dystopia like Demolitian Man, than something I'd want to live in.

      I'm with Mr Scott, fuck that shit. At least he remembers the good old days of getting tanked and punching Klingons in the face for doing as little as dishonoring his ship.
    • by westlake (615356)

      There is NO SUCH THING as "intellectual property". It's a farce. I, for one, am looking forward to a left-leaning "creative commons" Star Trek like world where profit means little, and the freedy people (Ferengi) are forbidden interlopers.

      What Star Trek series was ever set outside the insular world of the elite professional soldier? Whose every wish and whim is fulfilled by the state?

      I share little in common Heinlein but an affection for characters who must live by their wits --- and tech that is good, sometimes very, very good, but never the genii in the bottle.

      • by Soluzar (1957050)
        The setting for DS9 was established in such a way that it intersected the worlds of the career military and the regular Joe. What conclusions about the world in which is is set one may draw from the series I leave to you.
    • I kinda agree with you - intellect can't be a property. I'll allow that coyrights should be granted for a brief period, like a decade or so. Then, the "property" should become public domain.

      But, hey, if the douches in Washington can play the "intellectual property" game, then why not some Africans? The United States doesn't have a monopoly on douchebaggery, does it?

      • by Raumkraut (518382)

        But, hey, if the douches in Washington can play the "intellectual property" game, then why not some Africans? The United States doesn't have a monopoly on douchebaggery, does it?

        No, but I'll wager they have a patent.

    • by ZankerH (1401751)
      Exactly this. I refuse to recognise the concept of owning ideas. If you want to protect your intellectual property, keep it in your head (and keep your head away from fMRI scanners). Once it's out in the open, it's no longer "intellectual property", it's free information.
  • Bullshit. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pla (258480) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @10:29PM (#42023579) Journal
    Whether or not you can extract (and I choose that word deliberately) wealth from a nation through the fiction we call "intellectual property" has nothing to do with the long-term viability of that concept.

    When people starve to death because Monsanto won't let them grow patented plants, we need to put the bastards up against the wall.
    When people starve to death because Goldman Sachs has cornered the Red Spring Wheat market, we need to put the bastards up against the wall.
    When people die of malaria because Novartis would rather profit than save lives, we need to put the bastards up against the wall.

    "Intellectual property" literally means nothing more than "we value dollars over your life". Anyone using that as a defense for their actions counts as nothing short of a race traitor - To the human race.

    The sooner We The People stop putting up with this shit, the sooner we can get back to improving our world rather than making sure the "right" people get paid for improvements 20 years ago.
    • When pharmaceutical companies close down and noone has the money to do trials of new drugs because the health budgets are already out of control, I'm sure you won't be surprised. If Novartis has no prospect of a profit for its research into malaria, it's not going to do it. There is a role for IP, it's just that it's got out of hand. And Branding is a good thing - or would be if people weren't so insecure as to make fun of people who don't bother to spend silly amounts of money - because it allows a consis
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Except there were more medicinal compounds patented BEFORE patents were introduced.
        http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/papers/ip.ch.9.m1004.pdf

        And in Italy there was a measurable slowdown in development JUST AFTER INTRODUCTION of patents for medicines. Profits went up, new drugs went down. They simply didn't have to try so hard to compete.

        • by arth1 (260657) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @11:30PM (#42023865) Homepage Journal

          Except there were more medicinal compounds patented BEFORE patents were introduced.
          http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/papers/ip.ch.9.m1004.pdf [ucla.edu]

          And in Italy there was a measurable slowdown in development JUST AFTER INTRODUCTION of patents for medicines. Profits went up, new drugs went down. They simply didn't have to try so hard to compete.

          Also, a large part of the medications used today originated at publicly funded universities. The pharmaceutical companies' contribution is often to change a tiny bit, like the delivery mechanism, and then fight and bribe tooth and nail to get their own patented variety approved by the governments and the competitors' versions stalled.
          There wouldn't be over 1200 registered pharmaceutical lobbyists in Washington if they didn't get even more return for that investment.

          I used to use a cough decongestant made by a handful of pharmacists, who had made it for about two generations. Then came a big company and demanded a ban - it ate part of their market share in certain areas. It got banned because the combination of two ingredients in a specific ratio was "untested" - despite having been sold for well near 40 years with no documented ill effects, and sold in almost, but not quite, the same ratio by the big pharma company. It wasn't a consumer concern, it wasn't an FDA concern - it got pushed by a single company who wanted to sell their product.
          Yes, sure, they're contributing... To my hatred of them and everything they stand for. I refuse to buy stock in any pharmaceutical company, no matter whether it's more profitable. Cause unlike them, I have scruples.

          • by Crypto Gnome (651401) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @11:33PM (#42023871) Homepage Journal

            I have scruples.

            You should see your pharmacist, I hear these days there's a cream for that.

          • by perpenso (1613749) on Monday November 19, 2012 @12:52AM (#42024185)

            Also, a large part of the medications used today originated at publicly funded universities.

            And many of these universities patent and license their work as well. Revenue from these licenses help fund medical/pharma research and the university in general.

            For example the University of California is quite aggressive regarding patenting and licensing discoveries. Half of the revenue goes to the general UC budget, a quarter to the department where the discovery originated and a quarter to the employees who made the discovery.

            BTW, the UC licensing program gives breaks to small local companies.

            • >And many of these universities patent and license their work as well. Revenue from these licenses help fund medical/pharma research and the university in general.

              Univesities also did this research prior to the late 1990s - and that is relevant because the law that ALLOWS universities to patent publicly funded research wasn't passed in the USA until 2002 (it was a Dubya law in other words).
              The late Michael Chrighton severely argued against the law and even wrote a book (Next) about why it's a bad law.

              Eve

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          How can something be patented before patents were introduced?

        • And in Italy there was a measurable slowdown in development JUST AFTER INTRODUCTION of patents for medicines. Profits went up, new drugs went down.

          That's a bad measurement. Currently, pharma companies drown the market with slightly altered medicines as a pretext to rise the prices, as they are "new and improved" versions, but aren't required to proof a better effect than the previous, less expensive version.

      • Nonsense, most of the investment in discovery is government funded. Pharma spends money on marketing, and more than half of the research is in targeting of existing drugs.
      • So you genuinely believe that pharmaceutical companies primarily invest their own money, and do so because patents reward them ?
        Too bad it's not how it works in the real world. In the real world the bulk of investment in medical research is already done with public funds - but private companies are allowed to get a patent (that is - a monopoly) on selling the results of that publicly funded research.
        Haven't you NOTICED that most health researchers work at public universities, and NOT for pharmaceutical comp

    • It even goes deeper than that, look at the US (and most western governments) who literally pay people NOT to grow food and then buy "surplus" food at inflated prices to make sure that the price of food stays high.
    • by ArsonSmith (13997)

      This war on invention is not something I can, in good conscious, take either side on. In some ways I see your points. On the other side grow non patented plants, or non red spring wheat. Would more or less people die of malaria if Novartis wasn't their trying to make a profit.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Plant breeder/scientist here...

      With plants and crops, the only thing Monsanto (or anyone) can patent is it's own genetic trait stack lines or asexually produced plants from a parent plant. The genetic traits are part of the general patent process...the asexually produced cultivars have it's own patent system.

      Unlike what some scare-mongering anti-GMO sites would have people believe, there's plenty of options available in traditionally bred (including hybrid) plants. You won't see hybrid plants patented bec

      • Re:Bullshit. (Score:5, Informative)

        by gr8_phk (621180) on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:40AM (#42026589)

        With plants and crops, the only thing Monsanto (or anyone) can patent is it's own genetic trait stack lines or asexually produced plants from a parent plant.

        But Monsanto plants can and do breed with other plants. Monsanto has sued people who have not paid for use of their patents when those peoples crops became tainted. Sure a lot of people pay for and use them, but it's absurd to patent something that is self replicating in the field. The way you describe it, a patent is not needed because only the producer has the secret recipe. And this is entirely beside the points raised by those "scare-mongering" about GMO foods.

    • Sucks that you can only be modded +5.

    • When people die of malaria because Novartis would rather profit than save lives, we need to put the bastards up against the wall.

      What on earth are you talking about? Novartis has a strong initiative for fighting malaria.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopi_Luwak [wikipedia.org]

    the ultimate real world "emperor's new clothes" joke

    1. the dutch colonists didn't let the indonesian farmers enjoy their own coffee crop (consider them lucky, the dutch committed genocide to protect their nutmeg trade: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banda_Islands#Massacre_of_the_Bandanese [wikipedia.org] ). the farmers knew jungle civet cats raided the crops and ate coffee beans and shat them out mostly undigested. so, to enjoy coffee, the farmers processed cat shit to take the coffee beans out and brew coffee

    cut to: clueless westerners, seeing locals drinking cat shit coffee, and thinking this is some exotic folkloric way to enhance coffee taste, start clamoring for this "authentic" way to enjoy coffee. add some marketing mumbo jumbo bullshit (i mean, catshit) about the civet cat digestive enzymes enhancing taste, and you have the birth of the world's most expensive coffee

    rich morons deserve to fooled and fleeced of their money

    in other words, i support the use of intellectual property law by poor states against the assholes who made up this lame legal framework. intellectual property law is of course a joke. and those who created it should, and shall, suffer for foisting this bullshit on the world

    be careful what you create, western legal trolls. it has a way of coming back to bite you in the ass (out of which comes delicious coffee)

    • rich morons deserve to fooled and fleeced of their money

      So you're saying that if someone is both wealthy and mentally challenged, it's morally appropriate for others to take advantage of their mental limitations to take their wealth by subterfuge?

      That's a peculiar ethic.

      • considering the peculiar ethics that the plutocrats openly stand for, it's more appropriately called fair game

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        When the rich push the idea that poor people deserve what they get (if they didn't want to be poor, they could fix that, right?). It implies the reverse, that the rich are rich because they are better than others. Smarter, stronger, chosen by God, etc.

        So when the poor (that's anyone that makes less than $250,000 per year) get a chance to taunt conspicuous consumption, some of the retarded 47% who one day hope to be in the top 53% defend the top 1% because they don't understand the numbers involved.

        Unless
    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      be careful what you create, western legal trolls. it has a way of coming back to bite you in the ass (out of which comes delicious coffee)

      Trolli luwak, aka lawyer shit coffee. Served in legal briefs, it is the supreme coffee. Get some now.

      • * some restrictions and limitations apply. please familiarize yourself with the 659 page legal rider. if you don't have your own private legion of lawyer goons to ensure full legal compliance with our modest conditions, it is our right to take you for all you are worth

    • My in-laws from Vietnam told me about this stuff (which they called "fox-poop coffee"). It isn't just something marketed to "clueless westerners".

  • Bad summary (Score:4, Informative)

    by _Ludwig (86077) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @10:37PM (#42023619) Journal

    The paper encouraged the use of intellectual property claims, including trademarks, copyrights, patents, and designs, as sources of income which can be used to support agriculture in Africa.

    There’s no link to the paper, but that’s not what the linked article says. It says that they’re pushing an initiative to benefit African agriculture through IP and branding. Copyrights, patents, and designs are mentioned only in the context of the presenter explaining to the audience what “intellectual property” even means. (The fact that he felt the need to do that is telling.)

    I suspect the main thrust would be developing geographical indicator branding, like appellations d'origine contrôlée or Cornish pasties; the article mentions Ethiopia’s success in this regard.

    • Copyrights, patents, and designs are mentioned only in the context of the presenter explaining to the audience what “intellectual property” even means.

      Intellectual Property means somewhere a lawyer is getting rich off your product.

      More than anything, IP in this context means WESTERN LAWYERS sucking the life out of impoverished African agriculturalists.

      • by retchdog (1319261)

        sure, it's awful, but as far as history goes i'd rather have lawyers oppressing me than, say, the british east india company.

      • by perpenso (1613749) on Monday November 19, 2012 @01:21AM (#42024325)

        IP in this context means WESTERN LAWYERS sucking the life out of impoverished African agriculturalists.

        That is not true, IP can protect the smaller and independent coffee growers. For example IP was used to protect the small coffee growers in Kona, Hawaii. Prior to their use of IP to protect the "Kona" brand, Kona blends from some major distributors contained very little Kona sourced beans. Not only did this reduce the sales of the Kona growers, diminish their brand by associating it with an inferior experience, but it was deceptive to consumers. I learned of this by sitting next to such a grower on a flight to Hawaii. In other words I am offering the perspective of a small and independent coffee grower.

        • Europe solved that one with the 'protected designation of origin.' In that framework, coffee could only be sold as 'Kona coffee' (Which I know isn't in Europe, but imagine it was) if it was manufacturered in Kona. With some foods there are additional requirements like using certain traditional processing methods. But the name isn't owned by anyone - there could be a hundred different companies making Kona coffee, so long as they all had their coffee fields in Kona. The closest that intellectual property has

          • by perpenso (1613749)

            ... in a trademark framework there would be exactly one company authorised to sell Kona coffee, and any other sellers in the region would have to try to manage without drawing attention to their place of origin. Not exactly market-friendly.

            I believe the general trademark for Kona coffee is owned by the State of Hawaii not a particular company.

        • IP stands for Internet Protocol and has nothing to do with coffee. What you are on about is called Trademark. That's what branding is all about: Trademark.
    • by AK Marc (707885)
      I wish Brazil would issue a patent covering all DNA in Brazil. That way, when the next big cure is found in some beetle in the rain forest, they can let it go to market, then take 110% of every sale of the result.
  • by Crypto Gnome (651401) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @10:47PM (#42023681) Homepage Journal
    It's perfectly natural for Coffee and Intelectual Property to go hand in hand.

    Coffee is a diuretic, after all.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    From TFA...

    The process of obtaining IP rights for these three products - collective marks for cotton and vanilla and a trademark for sesame - is well under way. The IP and branding strategies that have been developed under the project “will guarantee the origin of the selected products, and establish the link between their unique and distinctive qualities and their geographical origin,” Mr. Mengistie explains. “They will also make it possible to maintain and enhance the reputation and good

  • Through Global Warming we are making our world uninhabitable. It would be really stupid to teach everyone else to do as we do. That is just speeding up the train to catastrophe.
  • by Volanin (935080) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @11:08PM (#42023775)

    Although not directly related to coffee, there is a very interesting TED talk from Jojanna Blakley that touches this exact point. She compares the fashion industry, in which there are pratically no copyright law or intellectual property, to the entertainment industry where this is heavily overblown. Link: http://www.ted.com/talks/johanna_blakley_lessons_from_fashion_s_free_culture.html [ted.com]

    • The fashion industry is based entirely around trademarks. A Super Snobby(tm) handbag isn't inherently any better than one I can buy down the local high street for twenty quid. As a status symbol, it has value precisely because it has such a high value - in a strangely circular economic princible, it is only the high price that makes brand-name fashions desireable.

      • The Auto industry, in the high end of the price scale, is also based on the same thing. Why get a crazy Rolls Royce or Maserati which spends a lot of time in the auto shop where you pay like crazy for parts? Because you can show off that you have so much money to throw away that you can afford to buy items whose main worth is in the name and the expense. Though from what I see and hear, those Maseratis run real nice too! And why buy a fancy watch that costs as much as a high end car? (there must be SEV
  • Patents and copyrights can already be asserted in most African nations, as they're signatories on many of the various copyright and patent treaties (PTC, Berne, etc)
  • by xs650 (741277) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @11:26PM (#42023851)
    When I hear crap like that I am reminded that "If fleas could talk, they would tell you how they benefit dogs."
  • Seeds. Canned goods. Fresh fruits and vegetables. Corporate agriculture and agricultural co-ops began branding products no later than the 1880s.

    Think about it for five minutes and you'll remember dozens of slogans, jingles and characters, some of them older than your great-grandparents. Branding works. IP has market value.
    .

  • After all, "Juan Valdez" is a complete marketing dynasty. So effective that people actually think that Colombian coffee actually ** IS ** the richest in the world (it's not, Kona richer). In Colombia there are Juan Valdez coffee shops, etc. More power to them.
  • in 2003 WIPO would move to have open source stricken from the books as it were. We were relishing the much famed third stage of Ghandis "first they ignore you" speech. Ironically enough, "intellectual property" was also a consideration when british colonialists slaughtered en-masse many on the indian subcontinent for daring to make their own salt, tax free mind you, from sea water.

    Coffee is a globally traded commodity, and many blends are in fact copy written. try to grind your own Folgers, BlueBottle

    • by baegucb (18706)

      Please learn the difference between copywrite and trademarks. I can blend any coffees I want, I can't call them Folger's etc.

  • ... on how the brands are defined and used.

    Champagne must come from the Champagne region of France. Parmesan (Parmigiano-Reggiano) must be produced in a limited number of Italian provinces. There are other examples of such branding that convey the quality and source of various products. If this is what they are after, I'm fine with it.

    But if the goal is to sell a particular brand name associated with a region or culture to a corporation for their use on any old product, forget it. I'm not in favor of so

  • Calm down (Score:5, Informative)

    by eddeye (85134) on Monday November 19, 2012 @02:02AM (#42024477)

    All IP is not created equal. Here they are simply talking about trademarking by regions. Why? Because of vanilla. Madagascar vanilla was recognized as the best in the world. But Madagascar farmers got like 10 cents per pod, while the pods sell in NY for 50 dollars a pod (made up numbers, but you get the point). So the farmers create a geographical indicator (GI) for Madagascar vanilla, certify their product, and now make 25 dollars per pod.

    Coffee is just following this model, so you can market Zimbabwe coffee and Ghana coffee and wherever else and the farmers get to keep a greater share of the profits. Honestly I don't see how this is anything but good - poor farmers keep more of the market value of their product.

    When you hear the word IP, don't foam at the mouth picturing Simon Legree twirling his mustache. Stop, think, and listen. IP is just a tool, it can be used for good or ill.

  • by SpaghettiPattern (609814) on Monday November 19, 2012 @03:11AM (#42024709)
    I'm reading Michael Porter's "Competitive Strategy". Apparently it's the manager's bible.

    Porter advocates that competition to be the best is not a viable path to follow. Instead value must be created, the value chain must be enforced and the influences concerning 1) threats of competition, 2) threats of substitution, 3) bargaining power of customers and 4) bargaining power of suppliers must be managed well. Porter mentions patents and IP as factors but, of course, takes no political position.

    So, the most important issue here is that it's actually good that coffee producers actively consider competitive strategy. It should result in a more balanced coffee market whereby 1) we value and pay more for it and 2) the value chain of producing countries is enforced.
    It remains to be seen whether the distribution of this newly created wealth will be undertaken fairly.

    Whether IP is good or bad is besides the point. It's merely a factor in developing and managing a business strategy. IP is available to any body or organisation in equal quantities.

    I also realise I'm on /. and that IP is discussed vigorously here. My stance on IP is one with a good deal of skepticism. IP is derived form an intellect which always belongs to a person. I reject the concept of collective intellect whereby a business believes it nourishes and/or owns it.
    • I'm reading Michael Porter's "Competitive Strategy". Apparently it's the manager's bible. Porter advocates that competition to be the best is not a viable path to follow. Instead value must be created, the value chain must be enforced and the influences concerning 1) threats of competition, 2) threats of substitution, 3) bargaining power of customers and 4) bargaining power of suppliers must be managed well. Porter mentions patents and IP as factors but, of course, takes no political position. So, the most important issue here is that it's actually good that coffee producers actively consider competitive strategy. It should result in a more balanced coffee market whereby 1) we value and pay more for it and 2) the value chain of producing countries is enforced. It remains to be seen whether the distribution of this newly created wealth will be undertaken fairly.

      You've come very close to hitting the mark. Porter writes about the real world of business, where few businesses are in a pure competitive market, but more likely an oligopoly. The key point for this discussion is the four-way dynamic you mention -- the bargaining power between poor farmers and middlemen has traditionally been very lopsided in favour of the middlemen. If the origin of the coffee becomes marketable, the balance becomes more equal and the farmers become less poor. This has worked elsewher

      • I'm reading Michael Porter's "Competitive Strategy". Apparently it's the manager's bible. Porter advocates that competition to be the best is not a viable path to follow. Instead value must be created, the value chain must be enforced and the influences concerning 1) threats of competition, 2) threats of substitution, 3) bargaining power of customers and 4) bargaining power of suppliers must be managed well. Porter mentions patents and IP as factors but, of course, takes no political position. So, the most important issue here is that it's actually good that coffee producers actively consider competitive strategy. It should result in a more balanced coffee market whereby 1) we value and pay more for it and 2) the value chain of producing countries is enforced. It remains to be seen whether the distribution of this newly created wealth will be undertaken fairly.

        You've come very close to hitting the mark. Porter writes about the real world of business, where few businesses are in a pure competitive market, but more likely an oligopoly. The key point for this discussion is the four-way dynamic you mention -- the bargaining power between poor farmers and middlemen has traditionally been very lopsided in favour of the middlemen. If the origin of the coffee becomes marketable, the balance becomes more equal and the farmers become less poor. This has worked elsewhere. Registering a trademark isn't enough on itself, though, you need resources to knock down scumbags who try to sell lower-quality coffee with your trademark on it or customers will not return.

        Although I haven't finished the book yet, I gave the ideas I read so far a great deal of thought. The more I understand business, the more I realise that oligopolies are built on existing or created boundaries. And creating boundaries is considered a strength in terms of business.
        However, the five forces operating on business do not only influence oligopolies. Businesses finding themselves competing -or struggling- to be the best are affected by the rules and are most likely rather the object than the obse

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