Phu Quoc fish sauce is the first product in Southeast Asia to be protected by the European Commission. But this is just the beginning. In order to gain a firm foothold in the market, Phu Quoc fish sauce companies have to do much more work. The Department of Intellectual Property Rights of the Ministry of Science and Technology said Vietnam has thousands of products which are eligible to register for geographical indication protection but only 35 products have been registered in Vietnam. They include Phu Quoc fish sauce in Kien Giang province, Buon Ma Thuat coffee in Dac Lac, Doan Hung pomelos in Phu Tho, Binh Thuan dragon fruit in Binh Thuan, Hai Hau aromatic rice in Nam Dinh, and Thanh Ha litchis in Hai Duong. Economists say the registration is not too difficult because Vietnam’s major export market is the EU, the US, Japan, and China. The most important thing for Vietnamese enterprises is to protect and manage the trademarks in the market. Associate professor Pham Trung Luong says: “A few enterprises and localities have paid attention to protecting their trademarks. We often think that building a trademark is enough. In fact, managing the trademark is the key work. Some notable aspects of managing a trademark are to guarantee product quality and to ensure trademark value. These tasks are inseparable in managing a trademark. Without them, customers will never be loyal to our products.”
But many Vietnamese enterprises only focus on marketing and sales and have not been conscious of the need to protect their trademarks abroad. Dang Ba Tho, Deputy Director of the Cai Lan Cooking Oil Company, said protecting trademarks abroad is of great importance. If companies want to penetrate a foreign market, they need a marketing strategy and a plan to develop the trademark. Tho said: “Most companies have adopted 100% automated production lines with closed procedures that require strict monitoring. They must make food safety and hygiene their top concern.”
Tran Le Hong of the Vietnam Department of Intellectual Property Rights said Vietnamese trademarks lack resilience and competitiveness compared with foreign products. In the future, Vietnamese enterprises and relevant sectors have to invest in and build a promotion plan for each product.
Geographical indication is a major factor in building a trademark. It shows the product’s origin – the basis of the product’s popularity and specialty status.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Tran Tuan Anh, said trademark building and promotion are important aspects of the National Trademark Program. The Program will help enterprises and associations of Vietnamese export goods develop collective trademarks and register for intellectual property rights and geographical indication inside and outside the country. “National trademark development requires close collaboration between the State and enterprises. The Ministry of Industry and Trade and the National Trademark Council will make trademark related activities its top concern.”
In the international integration process, trademark has become a key factor in guaranteeing the integration capacity and competitiveness of an economy and enterprises. With resolute effort of the Government and enterprises, Vietnamese trademarks will grow internationally.
Dao Yen/Viet Ha/Chung Thuy