HA NOI — A recent survey of 500 enterprises showed that most ignore the role of trademarks in developing fruit exports.
Viet Nam’s weather and growing conditions make it a source for a variety of high-quality tropical fruits, a selling-point overlooked by many of the surveyed enterprises.
According to a survey of its member enterprises conducted by the Viet Nam Fruit Association, only 4.2 per cent of enterprises view a trademark as a "competitive weapon" and only 5.2 per cent believed a trademark is an "asset." Most of them have no trademark managers.
More than two-thirds of the enterprises reinvest only about 5 per cent of their total revenue in building trademarks and one-fifth neglect trademark investment entirely.
Only 26 surveyed entrepreneurs have registered trademarks in Viet Nam and only five have registered trademarks abroad, a mere one per cent of respondents.
Viet Nam Fruit Association chairwoman Vo Mai said the number of registered trademarks remained modest, belying the quality and competitiveness of Viet Nam produce.
Only 10 per cent of our exported fruit bears Vietnamese labels, said Ta Minh Tuan, a representative of Southern Fruit Research Institute, while the remainder bear foreign trademarks. For instance, Vietnamese dragonfruit once won the best quality product at the European International Fruit Fair in Germany in 2002, but the products have been exported to Canada, the US, and Taiwan with a Chinese trademark.
Low trademark recognition has been partly blamed for an overall downturn in fruit exports. The industry’s export revenue decreased from $220 million in 2002 to $180 million in 2003.
Low trademark awareness has also stemmed from inadequate legal framework to protect intellectual property rights and a complicated system of concerned offices, including the National Office of Intellectual Property, the National Copyright Office, inspection offices, customs offices, and others.
Cumbersome administrative procedures have also scared many enterprises away from trademark development.
Enterprises and authorities should boost co-operation to solve this issue. Exporters must focus on developing brand names for their products and view it as their most effective competitive weapon, while growers need to focus on increasing the quality of fruits for export in order to meet the tastes of increasingly demanding customers.