Cure for an Ache: Light Years Away

The IPKat was initially a little suspicious of Public Interest Intellectual Property Advisors (PIIPA), since no-one he met had ever heard of it or had anything to do with it.  Was it perhaps the front for some sinister covert activities, he wondered.  But now his anxieties can be laid to rest, since he has just been reading the PIIPA Pro Bono IP Case Study Series, October 2010. In short, the case study reads as follows:
Client: Ache Guayaki Tribe
Location: Uruguay
IP Need: Trademark Protection of Tribal Name

Background: Yerba mate is a traditional drink of subtropical South America. Its roots can be traced back to the region's pre-Columbian peoples. Yerba mate is the national drink of most of these countries, and its preparation and consumption rituals are unmistakably intertwined with hospitality and friendship. One of the indigenous populations that has been growing yerba mate for centuries is Uruguay's Ache Guayaki tribe.

IP Issue: A fair trade company eager to bring yerba mate to the U.S. named itself Guayaki Sustainable Rainforest Products (GSRP) after the Ache Guayaki, but without the tribe's permission.

Solution: PIIPA brought the tribe together with Light Years IP, who assisted GSRP and the Ache Guayaki community in forming a business relationship based on fair terms. Light Years IP proposed that GSRP pay the Ache community a license fee for the use of their tribal name. The license enables the Guayaki tribe to control ownership of its name as well as to profit from its commercial use in export markets.

Result: This case shows that the benefits of IP management and know-how do not have to derive from producing a product directly. The Ache Guayaki tribe neither produces nor exports GSRP's products. Yet today, the Ache Guayaki community receives long-term licensing income from the commercial use of their tribal name".
The IPKat is impressed at the simplicity and efficiency of the whole operation.  Merpel says, but what about the hidden issues: dealing with third parties who are unwilling to take a licence, termination and/or variation of licence terms, brand extensions -- are these all provided for? It would be good to see a licence!

Yerba mate here
Coffee mate here
Beer mate here
Cure for an Ache: Light Years Away Cure for an Ache: Light Years Away Reviewed by Jeremy on Monday, October 18, 2010 Rating: 5


  1. Hi - can you link to the report? I couldn't find it anywhere on their website. Thanks!

  2. @Nicole -- I couldn't find the report either, and thought it was just me!


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