How to register a geographical indication under Vietnamese laws?

Nowadays, geographical indications not only bring material values but also other intangible values to the locality in particular and Vietnam in general. Geographical indications show the origin of products and goods corresponding to the climatic conditions and human of each specific region. In addition, the protection of geographical indications plays an important role in enhancing the value of Vietnamese goods in the international market. So, what is a geographical indication and how to register it?

Through this article, BLawyers Vietnam would like to introduce you the procedure for registering a geographical indication under Vietnamese law.

I. What is a geographical indication?

Geographical indication means the sign used to identify a product as originating from a specific region, locality, territory or country. In other words, a geographical indication is an information about the origin of goods, including words, signs, symbols, and images to indicate a country, a territory, a locality where the goods are produced.

For example: Ly Son garlic, Phuc Quoc fish sauce, Bat Trang pottery, Ninh Thuan grapes, etc.

II. Conditions for geographical indications to be protected

To be protected, a geographical indication must satisfy the following conditions:

  1. The product bearing the geographical indication originates from the area, locality, territory or country corresponding to such geographical indication; and
  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.

However, the following objects are not protected as geographical indications:

  1. The name, indication has become the common name of the goods according to the perception of relevant consumers in the territory of Vietnam;
  2. Geographical indications of foreign countries where they are not, or no longer, protected or used;
  3. The geographical indication is identical or similar to a trademark that is being protected or has been filed under a trademark registration application with an earlier filing or priority date, if the use of such geographical indication is performed is likely to cause confusion as to the commercial origin of the goods; and
  4. Geographical indications which mislead consumers as to the true geographical origin of products bearing such geographical indications.

III. Right to register geographical indications

According to the law, geographical indications are property owned by the State, and the right to register Vietnam’s geographical indications belongs to the State. However, the State empowers the following individuals to exercise this right:

  1. Organizations and individuals producing products bearing geographical indications;
  2. Collective organizations representing such organizations and individuals; or
  3. The local administrative management authority where the geographical indication is located.

IV. Procedures for registration of geographical indications

1. Registration dossiers
  1. Declarations for registration of geographical indications;
  2. A description of the specific nature/quality and/or reputation of the product;
  3. Map of the geographical area corresponding to the geographical indication; and
  4. Statement of payment of fees and charges.
2. The procedures for registration of geographical indication

Step 1: Submitting the geographical indication registration application to The National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam (the “NOIP”);

Step 2: NOIP examinates the registration application;

From the date of receipt by the NOIP, the geographical indication registration application shall be considered in the following order:

(i) Formal examination: 01 month.

(ii) Publication of applications: within 02 months from the date on which the geographical indication registration application is issued a Decision on acceptance of a valid application.

(iii) Substantive examination: no more than 06 months from the date of application publication.

Step 3: NOIP issues the decision to grant/ refuse to grant the protection title.

In summary, the protection of geographical indications is not only meaningful to the locality but also to the country. The registration of geographical indications will help businesses affirm their prestige and promote their products as well as the development potential of the locality. Therefore, understanding how to register a geographical indication is an important issue. It is very necessary for businesses, associations, and localities.

Should you have any questions about the above contents, please revert to BLawyers Vietnam at consult@blawyersvn.com. We are more than happy to hear from you!

Date: 29 September 2022

Writer: Tuyen Pham

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