Creating Trademarks for Vietnamese Products
At a recent workshop the status of Vietnamese trademark was discussed in the context of Vietnam being a World Trade Organization (WTO) member for 17 months. Experts from the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (Vietrade) under the Ministry of Industry and Trade said that many quality products are made in Vietnam but many businesses are not overly concerned with trademark development.
Former Deputy Minister of Fisheries Nguyen Thi Hong Minh said that Vietnamese farmers themselves can’t register their products under a trademark but many processing plants produce for foreign customers and package their products under their customers’ brand name. Therefore, even though a huge amount of Tra and Basa fish is being exported from Vietnam (ranking first or second worldwide) there’s little recognition that it is from Vietnam whereas Chilean and Norwegian tuna brands are highly respected worldwide and the producers in these countries benefit this respect that their trademark receives.
Packaging local product under foreign brands is commonplace for Vietnamese processors and it does make them money. However, in the long term, it will badly impact the national and community interests as Vietnamese companies fail to establish a reputation for their products in the world market, said Ms. Minh.
In the fisheries field, it is important to involve the community and link the farmers, producers and export processing plants. There is now not such a link and this is a real weakness of the fisheries sector which is in part why there is no Vietnamese catfish (Tra and Basa fish) brand in the world market. Every year there is a running dispute between catfish farmers and export processors in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta.
To establish a Vietnamese seafood trademark, export processors have to be able to meet importers’ demands. Today, developed countries have an interest in environmental and natural resources protection and green production. Some EU countries even insist that food products contain very little pesticide and antibiotic residues – and they do check.
In the textile-garment and footwear industries, the deputy chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Leather and Footwear Association, Diep Thanh Kiet, said that Vietnamese garment and footwear exports must get through the various import barriers if it wants to establish a trademark in foreign markets. The textile-garment and footwear industries are labor intensive and even if production technology was modernized, it would still hard to surmount these all of the technical barriers.
Apart from the common requirements of ISO 14000 and SA 8000 (the US also has WRAP and EPA standards and the EU has its REACH standards which restricts 200 toxic chemicals that might be present in textile-garment and leather products), the developed countries also don’t want textile-garment and footwear businesses to be using child labor and laborers are to be able to work under safe conditions, not face discrimination, not be required to work an excessive number of hours and receive adequate pay as contracted. Textile-garment and footwear businesses also face environmental protection requirements.
To create a trademark, national characteristics (products for local use must be designed for Vietnamese people’s tastes), an interest in people, a respect for international business rules and an ability to meet export market requirements are all needed.
The director of Ho Chi Minh City Investment and Trade Promotion Center (ITPC), Truong Trong Nghia, said that Vietnamese exports also have to meet specific requirements from buyers who are foreign associations and supermarket chain, like EMC of Japan regarding electrical and electronic items and the EU with its REACH standards.
Those in business would like to receive State support in their effort to establish their trademarks abroad. They would like to receive financial help to pay for modernizing production and advertising their products in foreign markets, especially in the US, EU, Japan and Canada. If Vietnamese products could get a foothold in the major markets, it would then be easy to enter other markets./.