Vietnam will spend roughly 600 million USD on a lawsuit that aims to regain the Buon Ma Thuot coffee trademark from foreign businesses, said Trinh Minh Duc, Deputy Director of the Dak Lak Department of Science and Technology.

The move was made after it was found that the trademark of Buon Ma Thuot coffee from the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak has been registered in China for monopoly protection for 10 years, while the Dak Lak coffee trademark has also been registered by a French company in more than 10 different countries since 1997.

Of the total 600 million USD, the Dak Lak People's Committee will contribute half of the funds while the rest will come from members of the Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Association and the Intellectual Property Department under the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Duc, who is also vice chairman of the Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Association, told Nguoi Lao Dong (The Labourer) that the lawsuit could last two to three years, adding that the Vietnam Coffee Association had so far received proposals from four domestic law firms to help it take part in the legal action.

Experts and lawyers say that Vietnam has a basic right and legal evidence to sue the Chinese company as according to Chinese patent laws, if a foreign geographic name is widely known by the Chinese public, businesses are not allowed to register and use it as their own brand name.

Tran Huu Nam, deputy director of the Vietnam Intellectual Property Office, said that there were some similarities between the Law on Intellectual Property Rights among different countries, particularly the principle of "the first to file and first to use." However, the law also says that in case the person or organisation that owns the trademark is not the applicant to file for that disputed trade mark, then the former may still secure legal ownership of the trademark."

Spanning more than 100,000ha in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak, Buon Ma Thuot is considered Vietnam's largest coffee growing area with an annual production of 300,000 tonnes and exports to 60 countries./.