May 04, 2021 / 11:34

Vietnam protects its ST25 rice brand in Australia

Vietnam Trade Office in Australia is working with Australian authorities to protect Vietnamese brands abroad.

Upon the information that an Australia company is in the process of registering Vietnamese rice brands ST24 and ST25 in Australian market, Vietnam Trade Office in the country has proceeded with urgent measures to protect these two brands.

 Vietnam's ST25 rice wins the title of best rice in the world in 2019. File photo

According to Intellectual Property (IP) Australia, a local firm named T&L Global Foods Supply PTY Ltd has initiated the trademark registration process on April 22 for ST24 and ST25 rice varieties.

To protect these brands in overseas markets, Vietnam Trade Office in Australia has sent documents and facilitated information to IP Australia to make clear that ST24 and ST25 are generic plant varieties developed by Vietnamese citizen Ho Quang Cua along with a local group of scientists, and these two have been patented in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, Head of the office Nguyen Phu Hoa has contacted with senior officials at T&L Global Foods Supply PTY Ltd, who said they would check on the situation.

ST25 rice, a type of Vietnam’s fragrant rice that won the title of best rice in the world in 2019, is currently sold widely in international markets, including Australia. Given the current situation, Vietnam Trade Office in Australia asked IP Australia to review the case thoroughly to avoid unnecessary legal dispute and cause negative impacts on the exports of ST24 and ST25 rice from Vietnam to Australia.

At present, the office is working with lawyers in Australia to proceed with next steps as required by IP Australia.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) said in a worse-case scenario, the office would seek support from the network of Australian business community, associations and the press regarding the issue.

“The important point is that the office and Ho Quang Cua should speed up their own registration process in overseas markets, otherwise, sooner or later someone would make similar move,” noted the MoIT.

In late April five US firms have also apply for trademark registration of the ST25 rice band in the US market.

The incident related to ST25, unfortunately, is not a new one as similar story had happened in the past with trademark of Phu Quoc fish sauce, Trung Nguyen coffee or Ben Tre coconut candy all fell into the hands of foreigners.

From the experience of ST25 and other products, Head of the Trade Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade Vu Ba Phu called for local enterprises to have specialized strategy in protecting trademarks for their products, especially at Vietnam’s major markets.

In the first three months of 2021, Vietnam's rice exports to Australia surged by 66% year-on-year to over US$4.7 million.