Protection of geographical indications (GIs) always plays an important role in commercial relations at national and international levels. Using misleading geographical indications will be contrary to honest practice in industry and commerce, confusing consumers to GI-protected products. Those using inappropriate GIs will obtain unfair advantages in comparison with their competitors. GIs are used for natural, agricultural, handicraft and industrial products such as: wood, sugar, fruits, wines, coffee, tea, cigarettes, weave, wool…GIs can make great contributions to establish prestige and reputation of a product in consumer’s mind as well as in the importation and exportation of the product. Therefore, GIs are considered as valuable properties of the nation, protection of such assets by law will not only enhance commercial values of GI-protected products but also preserve cultural values and traditional knowledge of the nation crystallized in the products.
Geographical indication means a sign which identifies a product as originating from a specific region, locality, territory or country.
General requirements for GIs eligible for protection
A geographical indication shall be protected when it satisfies the following conditions:
1. The product bearing the geographical indication originates from the area, locality, territory or country corresponding to such geographical indication;
2. The product bearing the geographical indication has a reputation, quality or characteristics mainly attributable to geographical conditions of the area, locality, territory or country corresponding to such geographical indication.
Subject matters not protected as geographical indications
The following subject matters shall not be protected as geographical indications:
1. Names or indications which have become generic names of goods in Vietnam;
2. Geographical indications of foreign countries where they are not or no longer protected or no longer used;
3. Geographical indications identical with or similar to a protected mark, where the use of such geographical indications is likely to cause a confusion as to the origin of products;
4. Geographical indications which mislead consumers as to the true geographical origin of products bearing such geographical indications.
Geographical conditions relevant to geographical indications
1. Geographical conditions relevant to a geographical indication shall include natural and human factors attributable to the reputation, quality and characteristics of the product having the geographical indication.
2. Natural factors consist of those of climate, hydrograph, geology, terrain, ecological system and other natural conditions.
3. Human factors consist of skills and expertise of producers, and such traditional production process of the locality.
Right to register geographical indications of Viet Nam belongs to the State
The right to register geographical indications of Vietnam belongs to the State.
The State allows organizations and individuals producing the product bearing the geographical indication, collective organizations representing such organizations and individuals or the administrative authorities of the locality to which the geographical indication pertains to exercise the right to register such geographical indication. The person who exercises the right to register a geographical indication shall not become the owner of such geographical indication.
The owner of Vietnam’s geographical indications is the State
The State shall grant the right to use geographical indications to organizations or individuals that turn out products bearing such geographical indications in relevant localities and put such products on the market. The State shall directly exercise the right to manage geographical indications or grant that right to organizations representing the interests of all organizations or individuals granted with the right to use geographical indications.
Required documents of GI registration
1. A request made in prescribed form (as prescribed in the Circular No. 01/2007/TT-BKHCN);
2. Documents, samples, information identifying the GI as provided for in Articles 106 of the IP Law 2005 of Viet Nam (e.g. a description of particular characteristics and quality of products bearing the geographical indication and a map of the geographical area subject to the geographical indication, …);
3. Power of attorneys, if the application is filed through a representative;
4. Documents evidencing the right to registration, if acquired by the applicant from another person;
5. Documents evidencing the priority right, if claimed;
6. Receipt of fees and charges.
7. All documents of the application shall be in Vietnamese, except for the documents supporting the applications, which can be made in another language but shall be translated into Vietnamese at the request of NOIP.