Boosting Image and Value of Made-in-Vietnam Products

11:31:10 AM | 9/15/2014

As an agriculture-based country, Vietnam has many high-quality, well-reputed, unique and highly-valued products which are attached to specific localities. The registration for the protection of geographical indications or certified brands or collective brands will be an important tool in commerce and tourism.
There are over 10,000 geographical indications registered for protection in the world and the ASEAN region has about 120 protected geographical indications with an annual trade turnover of US$50 billion. ASEAN countries have many successful protected brands like Myanmar natural algae, Lao coffee, Cambodia pepper and palm oil, Malaysia silk, and Brunei frozen lamb. According to the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam (NOIP) under the Ministry of Science and Technology in the Exhibition on Geographical Indications 2014, Vietnam now has 38 brands with geographical indications protected, ranked second in ASEAN. Most of them are related to agricultural products and three indications are protected in foreign countries.
Geographical indication protection brings in higher commercial product value
Geographical indication (GI), a kind of intellectual property, has been built, developed and used in many countries around the world. It is not only used as a proof of assurance to consumers to the origin and quality of products but also as an effective tool to promote, enhance image and increase competitiveness of products carrying geographical indications. This is a measure against unfair competition in the market.
European brands such as Champagne wine, Valencia rice, Baena olive oil and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese presented their experience in registration and protection of geographical indications for their products in European countries. Most agreed that GI-protected products have brought significant benefits to consumers and producers. The general law of the European Community has a complete legal and financial framework to promote the development of GI-protected products.
Vietnam is an agricultural country. With natural and human characteristics, the country has many high-quality, well-reputed, unique and highly-valued products which are attached to specific geographic names. The registration for the protection of geographical indications or certified brands or collective brands will be an important tool in commerce, rural development, preservation of traditional secrets, value chain development, product popularisation and tourism development.
GI access support programmes for businesses
In fact, some geographical names of Vietnam are registered by foreign companies in foreign countries (e.g. Phu Quoc fish sauce and Buon Ma Thuot coffee). This caused great damage to Vietnamese businesses. Some localities registered geographical indications in foreign countries but they were not successful because they did not understand rules and requirements in those countries. So far, only Phu Quoc fish sauce has its geographical indications protected in Europe. This is the unique in the country.
In addition, Vietnam’s registered geographical indications are still being violated because Vietnamese consumers do not pay heeds to product labels but only learn from word of mouth.
Besides, many products fail to register for geographical indications because related parties like State authorities, citizens and industry associations lack coordination to bring geographical indications to consumers and increase the value for producers. Due to financial shortages, industry associations hardly dare to stand out to manage these geographical indications. GI protection registration is now mainly carried out by State agencies, not producers, resulting to a low effect of GI protection.
Nguyen Duc Dung, Head of International Relations Department under the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam (NOIP), said that, with the support of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), NOIP is providing financial assistance and expertise for localities and businesses to approach GI protection. NOIP is proposing the formation of a national geographical indication label. When companies put the national geographical indication label on their products, this means that such companies meet rules and regulations on the use of the label. Thus, if this brand is in use, a product will carry three certified labels, namely national geographical indication, local geographical indication and its own brand. “Carrying the national geographical indication label not only helps enterprises improve their image and brand to consumers but also helps authorities control products on the market,” he added.
The Ministry of Planning and Investment has built a system of protection mechanisms and rights management for some new industrial intellectual property objects, including geographical indication protection for agricultural products, one of key exports of Vietnam. At the same time, the ministry also raised the awareness of intellectual property protection and improved the competitiveness of the Vietnamese business community by supporting the creation, utilisation, protection and development of intellectual property, with priority given to strategically specific and potentially exportable products.
Do Ngoc