Intellectual property in agriculture yet been focused in Vietnam

Many agricultural products have not been registered protection for intellectual property (IP) rights and met with difficulties in building brand names and export. So many farmers and merchants have produced and traded their products under the name of registered ones while handling of these infringements has been complicated.

Many famers have counterfeited dragon fruits of Hoang Phat Company which has been exported to Australia (Photo: SGGP)

Many famers have counterfeited dragon fruits of Hoang Phat Company which has been exported to Australia (Photo: SGGP)

Currently, Vietnam has over 800 agricultural, forestry and seafood products in the market but only 50 have geographical indication, 140 have certification marks and collective marks registered for intellectual property rights.
Of these, few have been registered for IP protection abroad including Phu Quoc fish sauce, Ban Me Thuot coffee, Binh Thuan dragon fruit and Lo Ren star apple.
Many well-known specialties without IP registration have been rampantly faked such as Nang Thom Cho Dao rice and pangasius fish. Phu Quoc fish sauce and Ban Me Thuot coffee have even been faked abroad and Vietnam has taken lot of time and cost to reclaim the brand names.
Ms. Nguyen Hong Ly, deputy chairwoman of Vietnam Farmers Association, said that foreign firms have imported many Vietnamese farm produce to process and market under their brand names.
Despite having many delicious farm produce; localities, businesses and farmers have not interested in IP protection registration. Hence, Vietnam is still behind Thailand in the Southeast Asia region in the number of products with protected geographical indication.
Many products have been registered for name and geographical indication protection but their brand names and labels have not been built.
A representative from Hoang Phat Company in Long An province said that because dragon fruits of the company have good quality so farmers have “borrowed” its variety to grow and market without paying royalties. The company has had authorized agencies intervene and handle but procedures have been complicated.
Experiencing IP infringement, Phuc Sinh Company has followed legal proceedings for over five years to gain success. Businesses said that the number of lawyers specialized in IP rights is not many, especially in agriculture field so it has not been advantageous for them to pursuit lawsuit.
According Vietnam Farmer Association, farmers have been in the thought of definitive purchase and sale so they do not care about intellectual property registration. So the role of organizations and collective economic models should be improved to increase the number of IP registered products.
Professor Vo Tong Xuan, principle of South Can Tho University, said that currently procedures on IP registration are too complicated for farmers. So they should be simplified to suit the current situation of Vietnam. Many farmers have created new plant varieties but been short of financial source and knowledge to do registration procedures.
That will affect operations encouraging farmers to create new varieties with unprotected study copyrights.

By THANH HAI – Translated by Hai Mien

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