The Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development (MARD) is considering to take an unprecedented move by using fund from the government's program on seed research, development and production for agricultural restructuring to buy out intellectual property (IP) rights of the ST24 and ST25 rice varieties.

IP rights for ST25 rice
Vice Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien. Photo: Do Huong/Hanoitimes

Vice Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien told the governmental portal in reference to the expectation of agricultural engineer Ho Quang Cua, owner of the rice varieties, to transfer the IP rights of these varieties to the MARD.

The MARD had provided patent license for ST24 and ST25 rice varieties in 2018 and 2020 with a validity of 20 year. In international markets, ST25 rice won the World Best Rice award in 2019 and is now subject to trademark registration from US and Australian companies.

“Cua wants ST24 and ST25 rice varieties to become state properties so that local firms and individuals could have opportunity to mass produce ST24 and ST25 rice,” said Tien.

Tien, however, noted that the ministry has not received an official proposal from Cua, but in case the move is materialized, the MARD’s Department of Crop Production would be the new owner and work with localities regarding the production of these rice products.

IP rights for ST25 rice
Ho Quang Cua, developer of the ST24 and ST25 rice varieties. File photo

Regarding the ongoing process to protect ST25 rice brand in overseas markets, Tien noted the MARD along with the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the owner of ST25 rice variety and Pan Group have sent documents to the US for IP rights registration.

Tien also acknowledged the lack of attention from both the government and the local enterprises in protecting brands of local farm produce abroad.

 

“Drastic measures are needed to effectively protect brands of Vietnamese agricultural products, given the fact that Vietnam exported farm produce worth US$41.5 billion in 2020, and this year, the figure may raise to over US$42 billion,” noted Tien.

IP rights for ST25 rice
Details of the application on the USPTO's website.

Tien suggested firms that they should learn from previous legal disputes between Vietnamese and foreign companies to anticipate their trademark protection.

“Firms may hire law firms, use major distribution channels such as Amazon or with clear geographical indication to better protect them from similar incidents in the future,” he added.

In a latest move, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) revealed Ho Quang Tri Company has applied for trademark registration as Cua’s ST25 rice with the mark consisting of a man with glasses (Cua’s face) facing the right, over wheat, and the words “Gạo Ông Cua” to the left.

The processing time is estimated to last for three months since the date of submission, noted the USPTO.

Hanoitimes

Trademark trickery blurs rice status

Trademark trickery blurs rice status

Unlike regional competition, Vietnamese branding approaches of well-established rice varieties could still see some improvements because of existing ambiguities in the product development strategies of the responsible government agencies.

PAN Group entrusted with protection of ST24 and ST25 rice trademarks in int'l markets

PAN Group entrusted with protection of ST24 and ST25 rice trademarks in int'l markets

The PAN Group has been authorised to register ownership rights for the ST24 and ST25 rice varieties in foreign markets and protect related trademarks.

Vietnam Trade Office working to protect rice trademark in Australia

Vietnam Trade Office working to protect rice trademark in Australia

The Vietnam Trade Office in Australia has said it has taken measures to protect Vietnamese rice trademarks after an Australian firm registered for trademark protection of rice varieties ST24 and ST25.