The issue: Starbucks refused to give Ethiopia the intellictual property names - Harar, Sidamo and Yirgachefe (all names of places in Ethiopia)
The real issue: if Ethiopia has control over the trade mark, it can control distribution of the coffee in question. Control over distribution = greater economic benefit. So it really boils down to money.
The cool aspect: Technology is allowing us to be right in the middle of the debate. We can even see the Ethiopian government's attorney explaining certain issues and terminologies. Viva technology, even lawyers have disembarked their high horses, which is hugely out of character in most cases.
This is an indication of the importance of people's voices. If that didn't matter, a senior attorney and a senior VP of a company wouldn't have bothered to post their arguments on Youtube. OXFAM also used Youtube to galvanize some 90,000 people to push Starbucks in becoming socially responsible. That takes me to my other point...
If you've been boycotting Starbucks coffee since this whole fiasco started and you're about ready to kill for some Ethiopian coffee, hang in there. I found Ethiopian coffee distributed by Liquid Planet in a whole food type of store. Their motto, at least on the packet, is "farmers first". Well, I am going to use their coffee until the Starbucks-Ethiopia issue is resolved. I must admit that it has been tough to deal with the Starbucks withdrawal. I'm exctatic that I found an alternative.
Current status of the matter: Vague from both Starbucks' and Ethiopian sides. Starbucks says "Ethiopia is recognized as the historic birthplace of coffee and the source of some of the finest coffee in the world. We’re extremely excited to continue to deepen our relationship with the Government of Ethiopia," Vague! And tell us something we don't know. Ethiopia on the other hand says it is "committed to work in partnership with all international specialty coffee companies and distributors of its fine coffees." Vague! I have a question... What?
If this goes in Ethiopias favour, it means $100,000 a year. I hope the poor Ethiopian coffee farmers get what they deserve!!!