GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS (GIs)
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 indications (GIs) means a sign which identifies a product as originating from a specific region, locality, territory or country.
- Reputation of products bearing a geographical indication shall be determined on the basis of consumers’ trust in such products through the extent of their being widely known to and selected by consumers.
- Quality and characteristics of products bearing a geographical indication shall be defined by one or several qualitative, quantitative or physically, chemically, microbiologically perceptible criteria which can be tested by technical means or experts with appropriate testing methods.
- Geographical conditions relevant to a geographical indication mean natural and human factors decisive to reputation, quality and characteristics of products bearing such geographical indication.
- Natural factors include: climatic, hydrological, geological, topographical and ecological factors and other natural conditions
- Human factors include: skills and expertise of producers, and traditional production processes of localities.
- Geographical areas bearing geographical indications shall have their boundaries accurately determined in words and maps.
SUBJECT MATTERS NOT PROTECTED AS GIs
- Names or indications which have become generic names of goods in Vietnam;
- Geographical indications of foreign countries where they are not or no longer protected or no longer used;
- 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;
- Geographical indications which mislead consumers as to the true geographical origin of products bearing such geographical indications.
RIGHT TO REGISTER GIs
- The right to register Vietnamese geographical indications belongs to the State.
- The State allows organizations and individuals producing products bearing geographical indications, collective organizations representing such organizations or individuals or administrative management agencies of localities to which such geographical indications pertain to exercise the right to register such geographical indications.
- Persons who exercise the right to register geographical indications shall not become owners of such geographical indications.
- The owner of Vietnam’s geographical indications is the State. 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.
- The right to use geographical indications: 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.
- Use of a geographical indication means the performance of the following acts: Affixing the protected geographical indication on goods or goods packages, means of business and transaction documents in business activities; Circulating, offering, advertising for sale or stocking for sale goods bearing the protected geographical indication; Importing goods bearing the protected geographical indication.
GENERAL CONDITIONS FOR GIs ELIGIBLE FOR PROTECETIONS
A geographical indication shall be protected when it satisfies the following conditions:
- The product bearing the geographical indication originates from the area, locality, territory or country corresponding to such geographical indication;
- 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.
AMENDMENT & ASSIGNMENT
Before the NOIP issues decisions on rejection of an application, decisions on refusal to grant a protection title or decisions on the grant of a protection title, the applicant may amend of the application on his/her own initiative or upon the request of the NOIP.
AMENDMENT OF PROTECTION TITLE
- General provisions on amendment or change of holders of protection titles
- Modification of the description of the nature/ quality/ reputation of the product bearing the geographical indication, the map of the geographical area subject to the geographical indication, and regulations on the use of collective or certification marks.
- In case of narrowing of the protection coverage, a re-examination must be conducted. Re-examination time limit: for geographical indications not exceeding 04 months.
In complicated cases, the time limit for re-examination must be extended. However, it must not exceed the time limit for examination of applications for establishment of rights.
- If the request is considered valid, the NOIP shall issue a decision on amendment of the protection title, register and publish it in the Industrial Property Official Gazette. If the request is considered invalid, the NOIP shall issue a decision on its rejection of the request for protection title amendment.