Nowadays, the issue of trademark protection has been given more attention than ever since Vietnam opened its economy and integrated into the world market. With the wide range of commodities and the fierce competition in the market, counterfeits of popular goods are being produced increasingly. The producers, therefore, have no choice but register their trademarks to obtain legal protection from fakes. Businesses are advised to immediately register their trademarks in Vietnam as well as in other foreign market to avoid losing trademarks.
Despite many warnings, bad news on the “disappearance” of Vietnamese trademarks has caused headaches for many companies in the country. Here are some typical cases.
Protected Situation Of Vietnamese TradeMark In The International
1. Trung Nguyen Coffee.
Trung Nguyen coffeehouse chain is one of Vietnam’s best-known brands, which now has 400 franchise cafés around Vietnam. Trung Nguyen brand was launched in 1998 by Dang Le Nguyen Vu, Trung Nguyen owner who decided to take it abroad, not just to any country such as Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, but to the heartland of the coffee business, America. The controversy goes back to 2000 when Trung Nguyen entered US market through its American distributor, Rice Field Corporation. The first purchasing contract between the two companies became valid in January 2001. When Trung Nguyen applied to register its trademark in the US in May 2001, it discovered that Rice Field had already registered the trademark in October 2000.
“This has put a stop to all of our discussions with other American partners” the firm's founder, Dang Le Nguyen Vu, was reported as saying. Although legal moves to recover the trademark are under way, Mr. Vu said that regardless of how the case turns out the company has lost the opportunity to enter the American market immediately and can't advertise its products in America.
“This is a huge loss for us” he said. “I knew that the American market would be difficult to enter, but this blow was totally out of the blue.” To retrieve its trademark, the company has given US authority piles of document to buttress his rightful claim, proving that the Trung Nguyen trademark has existed since 1996, and has become one of Vietnam’s icons. The long-standing trademark dispute may be nearing the end in the attempt of Trung Nguyen to win the case and stop the lengthy dispute as soon as possible.
2. Petro Vietnam
The Vietnam Oil and Gas Corp (Petro Vietnam), a state owned company has been in business since 1975 is still struggling to retrieve its trademark, even after finding out the usurper, the Nguyen Lai Corp, a television repair firm, only intend to sell the brand to Petro Vietnam to make a quick buck.. The news was broken on the Internet by the USPTO when it announced receiving an application to register the Petro Vietnam trademark with an identical logo, a burning flame. Petro Vietnam had to present major information about itself including its logo, trademark and function registered in Vietnam and its business relations with oil and gas giants around the world. At the moment, Petro Vietnam has no gas and oil in the US market except the crude oil so there is no immediate loss. However in several years, the corporation will has difficulty exporting processed oil and products to the US if the trademark is registered by another company.
Luckily, the trademark and logo registration by Nguyen Lai Corp is still at the first considered stage at present. Moreover, because of being a state owned company, Petro Vietnam get much support from the Government to accelerate the registered process.
It will complete registration of its trademark in Vietnam this October and will register in the United States and European Union in the future as part of the corporation's long-term strategy.
3. Vietnam Tobacco Corp. (Vinataba)
The well-known “Vinataba” mark was registered in some Asian countries by an Indonesia company. The country’s largest tobacco producer had discovered to its chagrin last year, when trying to register its trademark in some countries and territories, that the Indonesian firm had fraudulently applied for registering the Vinataba label in 14 markets.
Announcing this, Pham and Associates, the company’s legal representative, revealed that Vinataba has received an official letter from Cambodia’s intellectual property authority informing of the abrogation of P. T. Putra Staba Industry’s right to the trademark. Even more disturbingly for it, the impostor had managed to acquire the brand name in six markets - Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Hong Kong.
Vinataba has struggled to retrieve its trademark in these markets. Fortunately, Vinataba was success in retrieving its trademark in Cambodia but the cost in this case is likely to be more than US$1,500. The company said the battle to retrieve its label was still on. Vinataba intends to register its name in 30 more countries to avoid becoming the victim of a trademark heist again.
Other famous Vietnamese trademarks such as Phu Quoc Fish Sauce, Bitis, 333 Beer, Nang Huong jasmine rice have been registered by foreign businesses.
However, there are a few positive signs recently. To protect trademark, some Vietnamese enterprises are signing franchising contracts. It means transferring trademark to foreign enterprise, so the trademark owner with develop and advertise their products in the foreign market without spending much capital. The pioneer in this method is Asia Silk Company, well known at home for its “AQ Silk” .
Moreover, enterprises are paying increasing attention to protect their trademarks. Many Vietnamese companies including Vinamilk, Miliket, Kymdan, Vinacafe ... has register and promote their trademarks worldwide.