1. General requirements for Trademark protection in Vietnam
According to the current IP law, a trademark is protected in Vietnam if it meets the general conditions including:
- to be a visible sign in the form of letters, words, pictures, figures, including three-dimensional figures or a combination thereof, represented in one or more colors; and
- to be capable of distinguishing goods or services of the mark owner from those of others. (Article 72 of IP Law of Vietnam).
The issue that should be noted here is the distinctiveness of the mark. A trademark shall be considered as distinctive if it consists of one or several easily noticeable and memorable elements, or of many elements forming an easilynoticeable and memorable combination, and is not signs of indistinguishability as prescribed.
2. Could a trademark containing only KoreanChinese and other Non-Latin characters be considered distinctive?
Since Vietnamese language employs the Latin character system, a Vietnamese with average knowledge will not be able to read non-Latin words/characters. As a result, trademarks with solely Chinese/Korean and other non-Latin characters are considered to be unreadable and unmemorable, and are unlikely to meet conditions for trademark protection in Vietnam.
In fact, it is very difficult for the majority of average knowledge consumers in Vietnam to find goods/services bearing Korean/Chinese characters through these characters only while they cannot read and then memorize, distinguish them. Thus, the purpose of a mark is to distinguish the goods/services of the owner from those of others cannot be achieved.
Therefore, the law of Vietnam has not accepted the protection of trademarks containing only Korean and Chinese characters as well as characters of other Non-Latin languages mentioned above in Vietnam, unless these trademarks are recorded as wide use and recognization by the IP Office of Vietnam (IPVN), OR they are presented in a graphic form or other very special forms.
As a better solution, the client could consider combining Korean/Chinese characters with other distinctive parts such as its Latin transliteration and/or its English translation and/or other devices.
3. So why are some trademarks containing only Korean/Chinese characters protected in Vietnam?
Before the Intellectual Property Law of 2005 of Vietnam came into effect on July 01, 2006, such above trademarks were protected in Vietnam.
Other than the marks protected under the old regulation, there are also special cases that have been accepted for trademark protection in Vietnam even after the aforementioned effective date of the law thanks to the creativity in the expression. For example:
In general, the trademark protection in Vietnam for the Korean/Chinese and other Non-Latin characters is very difficult but through that, it can be seen that creativity is unlimited and there will be very unique marks created from it.
Should you have any further questions about intellectual property matters in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, please kindly contact us via our email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about trademark protection in Vietnam can be found HERE