|In international trade, not only agricultural products but also any product or service must pay attention to the issue of intellectual property protection.|
In order for Vietnamese products, especially Vietnamese agricultural products, to not have to fight for brand patent, it needs cooperation between enterprises and state management agencies in brand protection.
At the end of April 2021, there were four US companies registering to protect the ST25 rice brand. On April 22, when answering the press on this issue, Mr. Vu Ba Phu, Director of the Trade Promotion Agency (Ministry of Industry and Trade) said that the story of ST25 rice, which is registered for trademark protection by US enterprises, is not new but quite common in international trade. The lesson to draw is that when enterprises have valuable products and brands, they must make legal protection and brand identity in the market.
According to Mr. Nguyen Quoc Toan, Director of Department of Agricultural Product Processing and Market Development (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development), this is a lesson for any enterprise in the process of agricultural production and trading, especially when amid process of integrating into the world economy.
On May 3, the Ministry of Industry and Trade continued to provide the press with information that T&< Global Foods Supply PTY LTD (Australia) filed an application for trademark registration on ST24, ST25 with the content “Rice, the world’s most delicious rice”. Currently, the Australian agency is still in several months of review.
Mr. Nguyen Phu Hoa, Head of Vietnam Trade Office in Australia, actively discussed with the leaders of T&< Global foods Supply PTY LTD. Business leaders have good will and said they will check the matter with the branding department of the Company.
However, the key point that the Vietnam Trade Office in Australia said is: “The deal will speed up procedures with Mr. Ho Quang Cua (owner of rice ST24, ST25), because without T&< Global Foods Supply PTY LTD, there will be another company doing the same.”
While state management agencies mainly focus on sending the message that enterprises need to draw lessons, be aware and better assess the role and importance of brand protection, enterprises faced difficulties.
In fact, since the ST25 rice was registered for trademark protection by US enterprises, Mr. Ho Quang Tri (Mr. Ho Quang Cua’s son), Director of Private Enterprise Ho Quang Tri, which owns the rights to the ST25 rice, admitted many times that his company could not take the US’ side.
“Currently, most companies register their own rice brands, so it is difficult for buyers to find the source. In my opinion, it is necessary to have a common rice brand of Vietnam in the long term. Thai people can do it with Hom Mali rice,” said Mr. Ho Quang Tri.
Need great support
Rice expert Vo Tong Xuan expressed a number of concerns. Because in the case of registration of enterprises in the US and Australia, if it is accepted, they will have a patent, Vietnamese enterprises that want to export to that market cannot use the names of rice ST24 and ST25 anymore.
An expert who is closely connected with the development of Vietnam’s rice industry said that to solve this problem, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development can recognize ST25 as a national rice variety – Vietnam’s rice variety.
Enterprises exporting to other countries must be certified, just like the Thai people did with Hom Mali rice. In addition, Mr. Ho Quang Cua’s business must ask relevant agencies on copyright issues, namely the Intellectual Property Department (Ministry of Science and Technology) to support the registration of copyright in the international market.
“Regarding the issue of trademark registration, I have a feeling that businesses are by themselves. Not only supporting enterprises to register for protection in the domestic market, I think the NOIP also needs to act to support enterprises to register in foreign markets, especially key export markets”, said expert Vo Tong Xuan.
Lawyer Dang Van Cuong – Head of the French Law Office:
We want to develop agricultural exports in big markets, so the brand name has very important value. Not only agricultural products, but any product or service must pay attention to the issue of intellectual property protection. The authorities need to pay more attention to this issue and have forums to exchange and disseminate trademark registration experience so that Vietnamese businesses and farmers can understand, implement and have solutions to deal with it in a timely manner.