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Lawyers say Vietnam has big legal advantages in Buon Ma Thuot case

FRIday - 11/11/2011 18:05
Citing the current laws of China and the World Trade Organization (WTO), lawyers believe that Vietnam can gain the upper hand over the Chinese defendant who has been accused of stealing Buon Ma Thuot geographical indication.

 

Citing the current laws of China and the World Trade Organization (WTO), lawyers believe that Vietnam can gain the upper hand over the Chinese defendant who has been accused of stealing Buon Ma Thuot geographical indication.

The lawyers have affirmed the high possibility of Vietnam winning the lawsuit, in which the Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Association sued the Chinese company of illegally using the Buon Ma Thuot geographical indication. Pham & Associates has been authorized by the Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Association to represent it to ask for the geographical indication back.

It’s easy to prove the fraud committed by Chinese company

Though the Buon Ma Thuot geographical indication was stolen two years ago when a Chinese company registered Buon Ma Thuot as its trademark in China, lawyers still believe that Vietnam will succeed in requiring Chinese agencies to cancel the trademark registration, if referring to the article No 16 of the Chinese trademark law.

Meanwhile, the TRIPS (Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights) of WTO stipulates–that if a trademark consists of geographical indication, it cannot be registered. In case it is registered already, the registration needs to be removed.

However, the Chinese trademark law also says that if the trademark is registered righteously, the registration will be valid. Therefore, the thing that the Vietnamese plaintiff needs to do is to prove that Guangzhou Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Co.Ltd, the one that has stolen Buon Ma Thuot geographical indication was dishonest when registering the trademark.

According to Pham Vu Khanh Toan from Pham & Associates, it is simple to prove the fraudulent registration of the Chinese company for three reasons.

First, in the logo of the company, three Chinese letters lie above the words “Buon Ma Thuot,” but these do not have the meaning of Buon Ma Thuot, which can show that the Chinese company intentionally did the wrong thing.

Second, a lot of Vietnamese companies have been exporting coffee products with Buon Ma Thuot geographical indications to Guangzhou city in China, where the head office of the Chinese defendant company is located. Therefore, the Chinese company cannot say it does not know the Vietnamese Buon Ma Thuot geographical indication.

Third, Buon Ma Thuot geographical indication was registered in Vietnam in 2005, while the Buon Ma Thuot trademark was registered in China in 2010 and 2011.

Pham & Associates law office is now joining hand with a Chinese law firm to sue to ask for the Buon Ma Thuot geographical indication back to the Vietnamese coffee companies. In case Vietnam cannot obtain the verdict to remove the trademark registration by the Chinese Board of Appeals Hearing, Vietnam will hand in a petition to the Chinese court.

It is estimated that the total expenses for petitioning to the Board of Appeals and Hearing are about 7500 dollars. However, the total expenses would be much higher if Vietnam petitions to the court.

Vietnamese brand owners urged to register brands internationally

There have been no official statistics about how many Vietnamese trademarks and geographical indications have been stolen in foreign countries. However, a lot of valuable trademarks and geographical indications have been illegally used, namely Trung Nguyen (coffee trademark), Vinataba (tobacco), Phu Quoc (fish sauce), Phan Thiet (fish sauce). Most recently, Buon Ma Thuot has been registered in China as a trademark of Chinese Guangzhou Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Co.Ltd.

In order to claim back Buon Ma Thuot geographical indication and protect the trademark for a long term, lawyers have agreed that it is necessary to take some measures. Pham & Associates will take necessary legal measures to request the Chinese Board of Appealing and Hearing to remove the registered trademark which comprises of Buon Ma Thuot geographical indication. At the same time, Vietnam will also register Buon Ma Thuot geographical indication as a Vietnamese collective trademark in China.

VietNamNet, Nguoi Lao Dong

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