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Coffee and Intellectual Property 198

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.

  • []

    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: [] ). 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)

  • 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: []

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

    Except there were more medicinal compounds 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. 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.

  • Re:Fuck them! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @12:41AM (#42024149)
    IP is not the reason for starvation. While IP is in no way a good thing (applying rules used for scarce goods doesn't work when the goods are not scarce) it is government practices that create starvation. From corrupt African countries refusing to distribute aid to their people to western countries who pay people not to farm and actively try to maintain high food prices for their farmers. Those policies are the reason for starvation, not Monsanto's patented crops.
  • the guy you're responding to is probably the kind of clueless fuck who sits with his friend complaining about the freeloading poor getting things they didn't work for, right after thanking his friend for his dad getting him that nice position at his dad's company

    or complains about evil socialist redistribution, but not companies that redistribute wages lower than livability so the CEOs wife can have another vacation home

    some people just don't fucking get it

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Re:Civet IP? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Coeurderoy ( 717228 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @05:11AM (#42025151)

    I prefer Jamaica Blue Mountain ....

    A large part of the issue BTW with coffee is the risk of IP claims that would create monopolies on traditional "origins".

    For example I very much like the Caranavi Coffé of Bolivia, but it would probably be trivial to get a trademark in Europe for it without any connection to the region in Bolivia.
    And then sooner or latter "profit"...
    Now traditional "regions of origin" provide some protection for this, but it's difficult for emerging countries to handle this right.
    Looking up "basmati trademark" and analysing the dispute around this between India and Pakistan is a good way to understand the nightmare this can generate....

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