South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesk

Case Study 2: Geographical Indication (GI) of Cognac in Vietnam

Background

Geographical Indication (GI) "Cognac" brandy of France is one of the foreign GIs protected by Vietnam law. Company A imports and markets a brandy on the market, labelling it as "Remus Fines Cognac". Its sub-label indicates clearly that "made by alcohol and Remus liquor imported from Australia".

Action taken

The Market Control Agency considers that there are signs of infringement of rights to GIs by company A.

"Cognac" is the GI for brandy products, having been protected in Vietnam since 14 May 2002. The products bearing the GI "Cognac" brandy are originated from Cognac area in France and must follow strict regulations and satisfy all conditions of the Association of Cognac Manufacturers. The products must be only made in France, not any other countries.

According to Article 129.3.d of the Intellectual Property Law of Vietnam, for alcoholic products, the following acts shall be deemed to be infringements of the right to GIs: using protected GIs for wine and spirits not originating from the geographical areas corresponding to such GIs, even if the true origin is indicated or the GIs are used in the form of translations or transcriptions, or accompanied by such words as "category," "model," "type," "imitation" or the like.

Outcome

In the brandy products labelled as "Remus Fines Cognac", the "Cognac" sign is identical to the protected GI "Cognac". But those products are "made by alcohol and Remus liquor imported from Australia", not made in France. From these bases, referring to Article 129.3 of the Intellectual Property Law, this lot of brandy products is considered counterfeit goods which violates the GI of "Cognac" brandy.

Some imported brandy products labelled as "Cognac" and indicated “bottled in Hong Kong” are also considered counterfeit goods because the brandy products bearing the GI "Cognac" are only bottled in Cognac, France. Some alcohol products using the term "Cognac" as transliterated into other languages or similar words are also considered as infringements of the rights to the GI.

IP Lessons

  • Protection for GIs is improving in South-East Asia, especially for GIs of foreign countries. However, EU SMEs still need to keep themselves updated about the current development of the protection in their specific countries of interest in South-East Asia.
  • If you have plans to enter the markets in South-East Asia, or have already entered these markets, you should urge your GI organisation to register the GI as soon as possible.
Category:

news location

Vietnam