Companies urged to build trademarks

Vietnamese companies should unite to build and develop industry brands on the international market or they will continue to struggle for global recognition.
Vietnamese companies should unite to build and develop industry brands on the international market or they will continue to struggle for global recognition.

The message came at a forum in Hanoi on Aug. 24 titled "Building and Developing Trademarks for Industries", hosted by the National Trademark programme, the Trade Promotion Agency of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the Vietnam News Agency's Tin Tuc newspaper.

Several Vietnamese companies such as VNPT, Trung Nguyen, Vinamilk, Agifish and Vinacafe had separately succeeded in building and developing their trademarks and increasing their competitive capacity, Nguyen Quoc Thinh, Director of the Trademark Centre of the Vietnam University of Commerce told the forum.

However, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Thanh Bien said that: "One of the weakest points about Vietnamese enterprises is that they only take care of themselves. Producers need to be aware that establishing trademarks is not the sole responsibility of the Government's authorities."

Speakers at the forum said that most Vietnamese companies lacked the experience to develop trademarks as a real marketing tool, reducing their competitive capacity against imports and multinational firms operating in Vietnam .

"Building national industry brands will help strengthen our enterprises, but enterprises must unite to build those brands first," Thinh said. He gave an example of a survey conducted in the US that showed just 12 out of 127 American consumers said they knew about a typical Vietnamese industry such as coffee, textile and garments and seafood, and just three knew of a specific trademark.

"Most of our products are exported as raw materials. Foreign companies refine them and label them with foreign brands, and that's why our products are not widely recognised," Thinh said.

Tran Le Hong from the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam said that the role of associations was really important in helping enterprises to build a collective industry trademark. He gave the example of ‘Cafe de Colombia', with 527,000 cultivators complying to unique standards set by the National Federation of Colombian Coffee Growers.

It required industry associations to set up strict standards from the cultivation stage to the production and distribution stages, and their members shared the same collective industry trademark, Hong said.

The union of enterprises doing business in a same industry in Vietnam was so weak that their conflicts hampered the building of an industry brand.

When Buon Ma Thuot City in the central highland province of Dac Lac planned to register the ‘Coffee of Buon Ma Thuot' brand, its neighbouring province Dac Nong didn't agree because a small part of the coffee was cultivated in Dac Nong, Hong sampled.

The forum also agreed that brand registration was conducted without long-term strategies or a master development programme. Representatives from Masso Group, Tan Hiep Phat Co, and the Vietnam Tea Associations said that the very first vital foundation for building a trademark was quality and consistent plans to retain and improve that quality. That was what made customers remember and return.

Bien said that the ministry was working with relevant offices, enterprises, associations and provinces to draft a direction for collective industry trademarks.

The National Trademark Forum is an annual event started in 2003 that focuses on helping Vietnamese enterprises to raise competitiveness, develop and manage trademarks and increase the added value of products and services./.

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