As previously reported by D&N International, Ministry of Science and Technology issued on February 14, 2007 Circular n° 01/2007/TT-BKHCN on procedure for acquisition of industrial property rights (IPRs), replacing the old Circular No. 3055 dated December 31, 1996. With respect to geographical indications, the following changes should be noted:
Under the previous regime (i.e. before the enactment of the IP Law), procedure for registration of appellations of origin were provided for in Circular 3055 guiding the implementation of Decree 63 of the Government dated October 24, 1996. Meanwhile, geographical indications were protected under Decree 54 dated October 3, 2000 without any registration formality. The recent reform in intellectual property law has made radical changes in this field. The IP Law has abandoned the term «appellation of origin», and protects only geographical indications provided that they are registered with the competent authority.
Under Circular 1/2007 a geographical indication may be registered if: (i) there exists a region or locality which corresponds to the subject geographical indication; (ii) the products to which the geographical indication is applied originate from that region or locality; (iii) A characteristic/quality or/and reputation of the products is determined by the natural factors of that region or locality in compliance with article 82 of the IP Law (article 45.3.a).
Nevertheless, such a geographical indication shall not be protected if: (i) it becomes a generic name designating products in Vietnam; (ii) it is a foreign geographical indication which is not protected, has ceased to be protected or used in the country of origin; (iii) it is identical or confusingly similar to a protected trademark in Vietnam, if its use may mislead the public as to the origin of the products; (iv) its use may mislead the public as to the true geographical origin of the products (article 45.3.b).
A geographical name may so be registered and used in Vietnam as a geographical indication or as a certification mark. To be protected as a geographical indication, the subject name must be used for products of which a characteristic/quality and/or reputation is attributed to the corresponding region or locality. For the protection as a certification mark this condition is not required.