Vietnamese dried fruit manufacturer Vinamit has won a four-year lawsuit against its former Chinese distributor who stole its brand name for the dried jackfruit chip product in China.

Vinamit Chairman and CEO Nguyen Lam Vien told Dau tu (Investment) newspaper that the Beijing Commercial Court has ruled Xie Hong Yi, who used to be Vinamit’s distributor, has to return the Duc Thanh brand name for the fried chip to the Vinamit Joint Stock Company.

The triumph of the four-year lawsuit with three hearings will support Vinamit in solidifying and increasing the market shares of its ten other food, coffee and fried fruit brands in China and other countries, Vien said.

He recalled that Vinamit started to sell its products to China in 1997 after gaining a foothold in the domestic market.

The brand dispute began in 2009 when Vinamit did not control the Chinese market and faced a risk of losing its market share given it only registered for the intellectual property for the Duc Thanh brand name in Vietnamese, while the name in Chinese was left unregistered.

The Chinese distributor thus grabbed the chance and registered the Duc Thanh brand name in Chinese. It produced a similar product of Vinamit and thus dominated the market which used to be held by the Vietnamese firm.

“Realising this risk, in 2010, we laid out a long-term business strategy in the Chinese market by establishing a mother company in China in Guangzhou with representative offices located in Nanning, Beijing and Shanghai”, Vien said.

He said he hoped the direct selling of Vinamit products to large supermarkets in China such as Wal-mart, Carre Four or Lotus would add strength to not only products of Vinamit but also that of Vietnamese trademarks.

However, the decision sparked a contradiction with Vinamit’s traditional trade partner, who later revealed their scheme to hold the exclusive right on dried jackfruit chip product in the Chinese market by announcing the ownership of the Duc Thanh brand name.

To claim back its brand name, Vinamit filed a lawsuit to the Beijing People’s Court against its Chinese distributor and finally savoured the victory at the third trial on December 25, 2012.

Over the last few years, a number of Vietnamese well-known brand names such as Trung Nguyen coffee, Bibica confectionary, and Vinataba tobacco have been registered by Chinese firms.-VNA