VietNamNet Bridge – Regarding the lawsuit raised by the British group Interbrand Group against two Vietnamese companies for illegally using “interbrand”, NOIP believes that the victory will belong to the British group.
A British group sues Vietnamese companies for illegally using “interbrand”
In the interview given to Saigon Tiep thi, Nguyen Thanh Hong, Head of the Enforcement and Appeal Division under the National Office of Intellectual Property (NOIP) said that he believes that the British group will win the case.
| Interbrand Group's head office in London |
The defendants have affirmed that they have not “copied” the brand of Interbrand Group, because their companies were established before the day NOIP granted the trademark registration certificate to Interbrand Group on May 6, 2010?
Interbrand Group is a famous brand which is protected in accordance with the article 6bis of the Paris Convention, which means that the famous brand still can be protected even if it is not registered. The registration does not create famous trademark. Even the registered trademarks can be cancelled by famous trademarks, therefore, it is not important if the brands have been registered or not.
The representative from Vietnamese Inter Brand Media said that the company has a legal basis to ask for the cancellation of the validity of the IP right certificate granted to Interbrand Group in Vietnam?
The cancellation will not occur. Interbrand Group has been well known worldwide and it has been using its brand in Vietnam since 2001. The group has also carried out a lot of activities in Vietnam. Moreover, in the age of globalization, Vietnamese enterprises cannot say these or that brands have not been present in Vietnam. The concept of getting in or out, therefore, does not have much significance in the Internet era.
However, the principles you have mentioned still have not let Vietnamese companies be convinced. They said that Vietnamese famous brands such as Phu Quoc fish sauce or Buon Ma Thuot coffee still may be lost to foreigners, just because they are late in registering the brands…
Vietnamese people think “famous brand” means that the brand is well known by everyone. Meanwhile, “Interbrand” is the brand famous in the filed of brand valuation and branding consultancy, i.e that it may be not well known to normal consumers. In this case, Interbrand can be recognized as the brand which is popularly used, and this is enough to bring a victory to Interbrand Group.
Regarding the Phu Quoc fish sauce and Buon Ma Thuot coffee brands, Vietnamese businessmen should pose a question for themselves: that if Vietnam does not recognize Interbrand as a famous brand in Vietnam, will it have reasons to ask China to recognize Phu Quoc or Buon Ma Thuot as famous brands in China?
As such, everything is clear already. Why hasn’t the court brought the case into trial yet?
If the case is tried in a foreign country, it would finish soon, and the Vietnamese companies would be the looser. However, as Vietnamese enterprises’ degree of legal knowledge remains low, the case still needs to be tried by the court. There are a lot of legal precedence cases in foreign countries. The UK, for example, has hundreds-of-year history in intellectual property. Therefore, Interbrand would just need to refer to the similar cases which occurred in the past, to obtain victory in the case.
What do you think should the Vietnamese defendants do in this case?
If the case is brought to the case, Interbrand Group will surely win the case, and the Vietnamese enterprises will be forced to change their names and stop using “Interbrand”. I think that the best solution now for Vietnamese enterprises is negotiating with the British group and persuading the group to allow to keep the Vietnamese names. If the Vietnamese companies continue using “Interbrand”, they will be considered as “stealing brands” from others.