As forming and protecting trademarks for Vietnamese agricultural products is a matter of survival in the context of globalization and economic integration, Hanoi and many localities have been focusing on building brands for key agricultural products.
|Dong Phu organic rice area in Chuong My District. Photo: Trong Tung|
In Hanoi’s suburban district of Chuong My, Director of Dong Phu Organic Agriculture Cooperative Trinh Thi Nguyet said that in 2015, Dong Phu organic rice was certified as a collective trademark by the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam under the Ministry of Science and Technology.
Since then, the product is popular with many consumers and sells well in the domestic and foreign markets at prices three times higher than the time it was not certified. With the brand, the cooperative has exported its products to the world’s biggest market-the US.
Many other Vietnamese fruit products have also made their way to the tough markets worldwide. Chairman of the Vietnam Cooperative Alliance Nguyen Ngoc Bao said that branded fruits such as mangos, dragon fruits, longans, and star apples have been exported to 60 countries, accounting for nearly 1% of the total import value of items in the world.
Nguyen Quoc Toan, Director of the Department of Agricultural Product Processing and Market Development under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said thanks to building a collective brand, Vietnam has eight main farm commodities with an export value of more than US$1 billion each per year.
From a local perspective, Deputy Director of the Hanoi Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Ta Van Tuongsaid the development of trademarks for agricultural products plays an important role as it is the basis for developing high-value items.
So far, the city has built more than 40 collective trademarks for farm produce such as Dai Thanh's late-ripening longan in Quoc Oai District and Boi Khe fragrant rice in Thanh Oai District.
Tuong added the city’s products registered trademarks are stably sold at convenience stores and supermarkets with prices increased by 15-20%.
“In particular, branding also contributes to helping cooperatives and farmers change production methods from traditional to closed chains, ensuring food safety,” he said.
Focus on protecting and building brands
The benefits of branding for Vietnamese farm produce are obvious, however, trademark disputes with foreign companies have arisen.
The spat over the brand of ST25 rice was a case in point as the specialty from Soc Trang Province was registered for trademark protection in the US by third parties. Previously, Phu Quoc fish sauce had suffered the same fate. That Vietnamese farm produce is exported in pre-processed form is blamed for the situation.
Statistics from the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam under the Ministry of Science and Technology showed about 20% of Vietnam's agricultural products have been registered for trademark protection by third parties. Businesses should protect their own brands in both domestic and international markets to avoid losing their trademark.
Vu Ba Phu, Director of the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade said, the department will raise awareness of trademark protection among local businesses and strengthen supervision of the trademark infringement in foreign markets to help them safeguard their rights.
The agency’s actions in this matter include technical support through training courses and registration of intellectual property protection in the domestic and key overseas markets.
From a business perspective, Phung Thi Thu Huong, General Director of Green Path Vietnam Export and Trading JSC in Nam Tu Liem District said that cooperatives and agricultural enterprises need to focus on building trademark protection and keep production logs for traceability and origin.
Chu Phu My, Director of Hanoi Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said the city’s agriculture sector will promote building typical agricultural brands in association with the One Commune One Product (OCOP) program.
The city will support 100% of packaging and labeling costs for OCOP-labeled products and connect local businesses with cooperatives to sell products in the domestic market as well as for export.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Minh Hoan said the ministry will strengthen coordination with other ministries, branches, and localities in building material areas, promote supply chain activities to ensure product traceability and quality. Priorities would be given to products with an annual export turnover of more than $1 billion.