The Viet Nam Trade Office in Australia is working with relevant agencies to protect Vietnamese rice trademarks.
According to the Head of the Viet Nam Trade Office Nguyen Phu Hoa, Australian company T&L Global Foods Supply PTY LTD was in the process of registering Vietnamese rice brands ST24 and ST25 to the Intellectual Property Australia (IP Australia). The application is currently under review.
Hoa said the trade office was working with the company of farmer-scientist Ho Quang Cua which owns ST24 and ST25 brand names in Viet Nam. It is also working with T&L Global Foods Supply PTY LTD and received cooperation together with a commitment to review the problem with the company's branding department, Hoa said.
Hoa added that the trade office also sent documents proving the Vietnamese origin of ST24 and ST25 rice to the IP Australia, stressing that ST24 and ST25 rice were processed from the Vietnamese rice varieties of the same names and sold widely in the market.
The trade office urged IP Australia to review the application carefully to prevent disputes which might affect exports from Viet Nam to Australia.
Hoa said that the trade office also worked with lawyers in Australia to process the necessary steps which were compliant with the regulations of the IP Australia.
Ho Quang Cua must speed up the registration process in overseas markets to prevent similar cases from happening, he stressed.
According to Do Gia Thang, Director of Nguyen Do Lawyers in Australia, it often took three to four months to verify the application in Australia, then another 12 months for official protection.
Thang said that Ho Quang Cua could consider submitting an objection immediately or after IP Australia completed the review process.
In the first three months of this year, Viet Nam's rice exports to Australia increased by more than 66 per cent over the same period last year to reach US$4.7 million.
Recently, five US firms also applied for protection of the ST25 rice trademark in the US market, alerting Vietnamese firms to increase the awareness of trademark protection from the early stages.
Nguyen Van Bay, Deputy Director of the IP Office of Viet Nam, said that no one could obtain exclusive protection for ST25 mark for a rice product from the ST25 rice variety. He stressed that it was impossible for foreign companies to register Vietnamese rice ST25 as an exclusive trademark, according to the Law on IP.
Ho Quang Cua and Private Enterprise Ho Quang Tri are conducting essential procedures to oppose the registration of the US companies for the ST25 rice trademark in this market.
It is expected that on May 4 (US time), the US Patent and Trademark Office would publish information about the ST25 trademark registration file of I&T Enterprise, Inc., one among five US firms registering for trademark protection of ST25 rice in the US. Objections can be raised within 30 days of the information being published.
ST25 rice won the top prize at the World’s Best Rice Contest in the Philippines in 2019, marking the first time a Vietnamese rice variety won the title in the contest's 11-year history. ST25 rice won second place at the event in 2020.
The rice variety named ST25 has been granted the Protection Certificate No 21.VN.2020 under Decision No 45/QD-TT-VPBH dated March 6, 2020 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's Department of Crop Production. The holder of the certificate was the private company Ho Quang Tri. — VNS
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