Today's Teatime--Rooibos (Red Tea) Trademark Dispute
by Christopher Enge
Lawyers, what would we do without them? There is a trademark dispute over the use of the name "rooibos" in Europe that could spill over to us here in the United States.
Rooibos (aspalathus linearis), sometimes called red tea, is a plant from South Africa used to make herbal tea. What makes rooibos such a great plant is that it tastes a lot like tea but does not contain caffeine. It is one of the main ingredients in our Brahms Lullaby herbal tea (tisane).
So what's the problem? The South African Rooibos Council together with the South African government objected to a French company's attempt to trademark the word "rooibos." To be fair, the South Africans say that it would be OK to trademark a product as "XYZ Rooibos" so long as no one claims an exclusive right to the name "rooibos."
For me, this would be like trying to trademark a word like "corn" or "beef." If it's part of a name (e.g. Kellogg's Corn Flakes) it seems the name should be protected. But if you want to charge everyone for calling something by its common name that's not right.
Burke International, an American company, tried to trademark rooibos here in the States before many people were aware the plant even existed. Other companies litigated their claim and Burke had to give up its claim.
It doesn't look like we'll have to change Brahms Lullaby's label any time soon. So be a trademark rebel, call your rooibos "rooibos" and drink up. That's still a freedom we have here in America.
Now for Today's Teatime headlines.
How to brew a perfect pitcher of iced tea (video).
"Highest tea" at the Centre Point Tower in London's West End (not cheap!).
Shawmont Home and School Association hosts a tea for new parents and students.
English Afternoon Tea and luxury car show at Salon Prive'.
How to make bubble milk tea, a Singapore favorite.
Afternoon tea for charity in Sawtry.
Green tea really improves memory.
For Industry Insiders
Falling rupeee benefits Indian tea exporters.
Tea Board of India reinforces quality standards for green tea.
Sri Lankan Nawalakanda tea factory sets record price.
Seasonal factors impact quality of tea leaves.
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