Vietnam: Intellectual property rights in agriculture are still a problem

Vietnam at this time has over 800 agricultural, forestry and seafood products in the market, however only 50 have a Geographical Indication, and 140 have certification marks registered for intellectual property rights.

Of these, few have been registered for IP protection abroad. Among these are Ban Me Thuot coffee, Binh Thuan dragon fruit and the Lo Ren star apple.

Many well-known specialties without IP registration have been rampantly faked, like Nang Thom Cho Dao rice and pangasius fish. Some specialties have even been faked abroad, leading to huge losses in time and money for Vietnam to reclaim the brand names.

Ms. Nguyen Hong Ly, deputy chairwoman of Vietnam Farmers Association, said that foreign firms have imported many Vietnamese farm produce, only to process and market these under their own brand names.

Despite having many delicious farm produce; localities, businesses and farmers have not interested in IP protection registration. Therefore, , Vietnam is still behind Thailand in the Southeast Asia region in the number of products with protected Geographical Indication.

Many products have been registered for name and Geographical Indication protection but their brand names and labels have not been built up.

A representative from Hoang Phat Company in Long An province said that because dragon fruits of the company have good quality so farmers have “borrowed” its variety to grow and market it without paying royalties. The company has had authorized agencies intervene and handle but procedures have been complicated.

Professor Vo Tong Xuan, principle of South Can Tho University, told that currently IP registration procedures are too complicated for farmers. They should be simplified to suit the current situation of Vietnam. Many farmers have created new plant varieties but been short of financial source and knowledge to do registration procedures. That will affect operations encouraging farmers to create new varieties with unprotected study copyrights.

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