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May 05, 2021 / 16:05

Vietnam enterprises step up efforts to protect brands abroad

The lack of understanding about international laws and limited financial capabilities remain two major challenges for local firms to protect their brands abroad.

In a move to prevent the ST25 rice brand from falling into the hand of US and Australian firms, Ho Quang Tri Company, the owner of the rice variety, has reached an agreement with agriculture and food corporation Pan Group to proceed with trademark registration in overseas markets.

 Developer of ST25 rice variety Ho Quang Cua from Ho Quang Tri Company. File photo

“The firm itself does not have sufficient understanding on international business practices, therefore, the support from Pan Group would relieve our burden in registering trademark rights in major markets,” said Ho Quoc Luc, representative of Ho Quang Tri company.

“Pan Group has strong expertise on this issue and such cooperation would bring benefits for all parties involved, including the ST25 brand,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Vietnam Staraniseed Cassia Manufacturing and Exporting (Vinasamex) penetrated the US market, the world’s second largest buyer of star aniseed and cinnamon, by selling its products on Amazon and sought for the platform’s support in trademark registration.

“We are working with a US partner recommended by Amazon to register our brand here,” said Vinasamex’s General Director Nguyen Thi Huyen, adding the process could be completed within a month.

According to experts, Vinasamex is just among a handful of Vietnamese firms having awareness on the significance of brands when expanding their operations aboard. But even so, the lack of understanding about international laws and limited financial capabilities remain two major challenges for local firms to protect their brands abroad.

This could be the reason leading to why incident related to ST25 is not a new case as other local brands of Trung Nguyen coffee, Vinataba cigarette, or Phu Quoc fish sauce were all involved in legal disputes on trademark issues in foreign markets.

While the government could provide support for firms to protect their brands with a network of trade offices around the world, it is the brand owners that should be the most active about protecting their intellectual property rights.

Director of Agricultural Products Processing and Development Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Quoc Toan stressed the important role of trade associations in providing support for local enterprises in brands registration.

“Only then can we protect our products, and especially brands, beyond Vietnam,” Toan said.

“Vietnamese enterprises must change their mindset from producing en masse to   focusing on processing for higher quality and subsequent brands protection,” he noted.

On the issue of brands protection, Vu Ba Phu, director of the Trade Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said the ministry is proposing an initiative to select potential brands for trademark registration in Vietnam’s major foreign markets. 

Generic plant variety S25 is a result of hard work for over 25 years from agricultural engineer Ho Quang Cua along with a local group of scientists from Ho Quang Tri company, located at Soc Trang province in the Mekong Delta of southern Vietnam.

ST25 fragant rice that comes from the plant  won the title of World's Best Rice in 2019 and second prize in 2020, making it a source of pride for Vietnam's agricultural sector. 

While the ST25 rice is currently sold around the world, the brand, however, is subject to trademark registration from US and Australian firms in their respective markets.