The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation’s (FNC) Intellectual Property team was recognized as the Latin America Team of the Year for its efforts in the defense of the trademarks of Colombian coffee growers and for the reputation that these assets have gained in the international market.
The London-based World Trademark Review magazine, an international benchmark on issues related to trademarks and intellectual property, granted the recognition during the WTR Industry Awards.
Representing more than 563,000 coffee growers, the FNC manages a large brand portfolio that includes Juan Valdez Café and Buendía. It also promotes the recognition and defense of Protected Geographical Indications –including Café de Colombia– and different regional origins –including Cauca, Nariño, Huila and Santander– that guarantee origin-linked quality.
“We are proud to know that our team and our Intellectual Property strategy are internationally recognized by specialists in the field as key competitiveness factors for Colombian coffee growers,” said Luis F. Samper, Chief Communications and Marketing Officer of the FNC.
Protecting the brand portfolio of Colombian coffee growers
The Intellectual Property team is responsible for coordinating the FNC’s legal team, the commercial division and Cenicafé, among others. Developing and protecting such a broad brand portfolio involves numerous and continuous actions, including coordinating brand agents in different countries.
Colombian coffee is exported to more than 60 countries and has gained a solid reputation throughout the years. The FNC frequently faces cases of unfair competition and abuse of the reputation of Colombian coffee through the sale of blends or coffees of inferior quality.
As an example of the success of the FNC’s efforts in protecting the origin of Colombian coffees, the European Union’s Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) recently banned the abuse of the reputation of Colombian coffee in restaurants and coffee shops that sought to improperly use the name COLOMBUENO.
Another successful example took place in 2013 when the OHIM ruled in favor of the FNC in a nullity action against the brand HUILA. OHIM overturned a record that restricted the possibilities of generating value added to the department of Huila’s coffee producers by making the owners of the brand the single party allowed to commercialize the HUILA origin.
Another aspect worth noting is that the FNC’s Intellectual Property strategy protects the origin of Colombian coffee through the implementation of a comprehensive licensing program of the logo Café de Colombia as an ingredient brand. The logo is currently commercialized in 2,131 packages of 100% Colombian coffee throughout all continents.
Similarly, 145 companies are authorized to use the Protected Geographical Indication (Denomination of Origin) Café de Colombia. In the case of Juan Valdez Café, the efforts toward the defense of trademarks and Protected Geographical Indications have generated over US$20 million in royalties for the use of the brand to the National Coffee Fund.
In addition to developing transliterations for different languages, brands must adapt their use and franchise models to the different markets where they operate. As Mr. Samper noted, “This means ensuring that the entities with which we work around the world understand our legal objectives, our policy and our philosophy, which all revolve around adding value to Colombian coffee growers.”