|Lưu Đức Thanh|
Lưu Đức Thanh, head of Geographical Indicators (GI) and International Trademarks under the National Office of Intellectual Property of Việt Nam, speaks to the newspaper Thời báo Kinh tế Việt Nam (Việt Nam Economic Times) about the development of GIs for Vietnamese products.
Why are certain agricultural products designated “Protected designation of Origin” or “Protected Geographical Indication”?
Geographical Indication (GI) and trade marks are essential elements in a market economy, particularly when the country has been integrating deeper and wider regionally and internationally.
Building a trade mark for any product through its GI helps people develop business plans to expand markets for their products and to supply high quality products to their consumers inside and outside the country. GIs enable consumers to easily find out where products originate.
Will you please explain the process of product quality control of GI products in Việt Nam?
At present we have already adopted legal procedures on checking product quality. Of course, all concerned parties have to be involved, including management agencies, producers and business people. In other words, the process must be closely followed in a closed loop to ensure the GI products are of high quality meeting market and consumer requirements.
What are the constraints that Vietnamese enterprises are facing in the building and management of GIs?
Vietnamese enterprises have faced quite a lot of difficulties in building and managing the geographic indications. I just want to mention the four main ones.
First, their concept of a GI product is still vague.
Second, they don’t really understand that all producers must join hands in protecting the quality of their products as they all bear the same GIs.
Third, science and technology must be implemented in order to produce higher quality products with appealing designs or models.
And finally, they should have a good public communication campaign to introduce their GI to consumers.
But under our law, geographical indications are owned by the State and city/provincial People’s Committee are assigned to manage them. That’s why GI management in our country varies from one locality to another and sometimes they contradict each other. This is one of the reasons for the poor management of GIs in Việt Nam.
Is there decentralisation in GI management in Việt Nam?
This is a cumbersome issue. For example, two neighbouring Provincial People’s Committee (PPC) have jointly managed the GIs in their provinces. But each PPC will control one GI and that PPC will assign the Provincial Department of Science and Technology to manage the GI. Or in some cases, the PPC assigns the Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to manage it. In some provinces, the District People’s Committee is assigned to look after the GIs issued in their district.
Meanwhile, in other countries, the ownership of the GIs belongs to the producers or business community. Such a practice makes the GI management much simpler, and benefits both the producers and the community. This system of GI management is a good lesson for Việt Nam, which can be adapted to our own conditions.
Does the National Office of Intellectual Property of Việt Nam plan to play a further role in the promotion of GIs in the global economy?
Our assigned mission is to protect the GIs from abuse of trust or encroachment. But the quality of these products is another issue and it is subjected to the management of several ministries and sectors. We agree that to enhance the novel value of the GIs, we need a common set of rules for the whole country, a co-operative mechanism for all ministries and sectors, and the Government’s rule on quality management. — VNS