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Few Farm Goods Use Trademarks

Experts have called for increased efforts to manage the use of regional trademarks related to Vietnamese agricultural products to help boost productivity and revenues.

According to Ta Quang Minh, deputy head of the National Office of Intellectual Property, around 993 agricultural products were currently tied to 721 localities nationwide.

So far, only 23 out of the total number of products have been registered with regional trademarks, according to statistics released at a conference held earlier this week by the Viet Nam Academy of Agricultural Science, the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agricultural and Rural Development and the National Office of Intellectual Property of Viet Nam.

Participants at the conference agreed that registering trademarks for agricultural products was critical in raising prices and value, thus raising the incomes of both producers and traders.

"It is a passport to certify a product's origin, differentiating it from those available in other regions," Minh said, adding, "It is also a foundation guaranteeing the rights of all sides."

Ha Duc Anh, deputy chairman of the People's Committee of the Van Yen District in Yen Bai Province, said that cinnamon from Van Yen was awarded an official trademark from the Office of Intellectual Property in 2010 which raised its value significantly against a decrease in fake products.

In Bac Giang Province, the thieu litchis (vai thieu) of Luc Ngan contributed to increasing the values of production from VND450 billion (US$21 million) in 2007 to VND 800 billion ($38 million) in 2011.

Nguyen Van Bo, head of the Viet Nam Academy of Agricultural Science, said that many registered trademarks have already been violated, most notably in connection with Phu Quoc fish sauce, which in some cases had originated in Thailand instead of Viet Nam.

Bo noted that the lack of proper management in registering trademarks had also led to problems, such as price fluctuations and violations where, for example, many types of pomelo grown elsewhere, had been labelled as coming from Doan Hung in Phu Tho Province.

So far, those committing violations were not subject to any form of legal responsibility, leading to a lack of interest among producers and farmers to register their products, according to Bo.

Minh, from the National Office of Intellectual Property, said that guidelines should be established for managing and exploiting agricultural trademarks as part of efforts to develop agriculture sustainability. He suggested that the management agricultural trademarks should cover export products.

It was suggested at the conference that the Government provide support policies to businesses in protecting trademarks, such as labelling products sold in supermarkets and raising consumer awareness.

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