Vinamit has got halfway to reclaim Duc Thanh brand from Chinese
VietNamNet Bridge – The review court to adjudicate the dispute of the Duc Thanh brand in China is expected to open in late April. Vinamit, a well-known Vietnamese farm produce processor, hopes the court would finish the 5-year lawsuit on end.
Nguyen Lam Vien, General Director of Vinamit, said he has taken half of a thorny path to claim for Vinamit’s Duc Thanh brand back.
In 1997, Vinamit began selling Duc Thanh brand dried jackfruit product to China. At that time, Vietnamese exports all had to go across the border gates of Lao Cai and Mong Cai. Vien then made the registration of Duc Thanh for the trademark protection in China and believed that he did all necessary works to protect the trademark.
However, Vien was wrong. The Chinese partner of Vinamit intentionally tried to rob the Vinamit’s trademark by quietly registering the Duc Thanh trademark in Chinese language.
Only in 2007, when the Chinese partner got the patent for Duc Thanh trademark, did Vien realize that he still had “fatal weak spots.” The trademark registration was only made in Vietnamese, while the Chinese laws stipulate that the full protection would be provided to a trademark only when the trademark owner registers both the local names and the original names to the competent agencies.
As a result, Vinamit, which is the real owner of the trademark, lost its right over its intellectual property. Vien then decided to follow a lawsuit to claim the trademark back no matter what.
If he doesn’t, Vinamit’s products would be in the danger of getting weeded out of the Chinese market. Especially, Vien may be accused of violating the Chinese laws at any time. Under the Chinese laws, the trademark counterfeiting charge could be sentenced to 5-year prison.
Nevertheless, it was not easy to claim the trademark. The Vietnamese lawyers Vien hired could not do anything within the first two years because of the geographical distance problem.
After that, Vien, who then hired Chinese lawyers, lodged a petition to the Chinese intellectual property office.
The office finally decided that Duc Thanh trademark belongs to Vinamit, requesting Cie Hong Yi, an old partner of Vinamit, the distributor of Vinamit products in China, to give Duc Thanh back to Vinamit.
However, the decision was not respected by the defendant, who then sued to the Beijing commercial court.
In late 2012, the Beijing commercial court stated that Vinamit is the only legal owner of the Duc Thanh trademark.
However, the judgment still could not wrap up the long lasting lawsuit. The defendant continued claiming innocent, asking for a review of his case.
Vien said the review court would take place in late April and that he believes he would win the lawsuit. However, he might have got too tired of the lawsuit.
Vien vows to claim back his trademark, saying that he would also sue the subjects who appropriated the trademark for the damages they have caused.
“We will reclaim the justice. We have all necessary evidences to prove the losses caused to Vinamit,” Vien said.
Vietnamese lawyers have lauded Vien’s actions, saying that this would encourage other Vietnamese enterprises to claim back their trademarks appropriated by Chinese.
Vietnamese businesses have been told to take cautious when doing business with Chinese. They have been advised to sign the distribution contracts with Chinese only after they completely register the trademarks in China in accordance with the Chinese laws.