San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Marketing Character Center of Coffee Battle

An international legal battle over rights to 47-year-old fictional character Juan Valdez and his mule escalated this year when Costa Rica’s leading gourmet coffee exporter filed a counter lawsuit.

The Colombian National Coffee-Growers’ Federation (FEDECAFÉ) filed a $1 million lawsuit in July against Costa Rican company Café Britt for selling Tshirts that said, “Juan Valdez drinks Costa Rican coffee.” Britt filed a counter-suit in September arguing the text on the T-shirts is a commonly used phrase in Costa Rica to which no one can own rights.


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