The whole procedure from filing to registration of a geographical indication in Vietnam is shown below:
(i) Filing a GI application
An application for registration of a geographical indication must be filed directly or by mail to the Intellectual Property Office of Viet Nam (IP Viet Nam) or its brand offices in Ho Chi Minh City or Da Nang.
Organizations, individuals of Viet Nam, foreign individuals permanently residing in Viet Nam and foreign organizations and individuals having a production or trading establishment in Viet Nam may file applications for a GI registration either directly or through a lawful representative in Viet Nam.
Foreign individuals not permanently residing in Viet Nam, foreign organizations and individuals not having a production or trading establishment in Viet Nam shall file applications for a GI registration through a lawful representative in Viet Nam.
Required documents for a GI application
The GI application shall consist of the following documents:
+ Requirements for Peculiar Characteristics Descriptions: Description of peculiar characteristics shall have following contents:
c)Power of attorneys, if the application is filed through a representative;
d)Documents evidencing the right to registration, if acquired by the applicant from another person;
All documents of the application shall be in Vietnamese, except for the documents mentioned at point c, d, e and other documents supporting the applications, which can be made in another language but shall be translated into Vietnamese at the request of the IP Office of Vietnam.
(ii) Formality examination
A GI application filed with the IP Office of Vietnam shall be subject to formality examination for evaluating its validity.
The time limit for formality examination of an application is two (02) months from the filing date. In the course of formality examination, if the applicant corrects or supplements documents on his/her own initiative or upon the request of the IP Office of Vietnam, the time limit for formality examination may be protracted for a period of time during which documents are corrected or supplemented.
(iii) Notification of the formality examination result
Before the expiration of the time limit above (i.e. two (02) months from the filing date), the IP Office of Vietnam shall complete the formality examination of applications and send Notices on formality examination results to applicants.
+ a Notice of intended refusal, clearly stating reasons and setting a time limit for the applicant to correct errors or to object such intended refusal and set a time limit of two months from the date of notification for the applicant to give opinions or correct errors;
(iv) Refusal to accept the valid application
If the applicant to whom the IP Office of Vietnam has sent a Notice on its intended refusal fails to correct errors or unsatisfactorily corrects errors or makes no opposition or makes unreasonable opposition to the intended rejection within the set time limit, the IP Office of Vietnam shall send a notice on its refusal of the application to the applicant.
Applicants and all organizations and individuals having rights and interests directly related to may lodge a complaint with the Director General of IP Vietnam or initiate a lawsuit at court if they disagree with this decision within 90 days from the date of receiving the notice of this decision.
In respect of appeal proceedings in general and geographical indication appeal proceedings in particular, Vietnam adopts a 2-level appeal system. In detail:
1st appeal: the Director of the IP Vietnam;
2nd appeal: the Minister of the Ministry of Science and Technology
(“MOST”, the direct supervising body of the IP Vietnam).
By way of explanation, in case the appeal filed with the Vietnam IP Office against its office action (“the 1st appeal”) fails, the GI applicant is entitled to file a further appeal (“the 2nd appeal”) to the Minister of Science and Technology
(v) Publication of the GI application
Within 2 months as from the date the application is accepted as formally valid, it will be published in the Industrial Property Official Gazette for oppositions and comments of third parties.
(vi) Substantive Examination
The purpose of substantive examination of GI applications is to assess the eligibility of the GI claimed in the application under the requirements and corresponding protection scope. A substantive examination will be carried out by examiners of the Vietnam IP Office within 6 months from the date of publication.
If the applicant, in the course of substantive examination, corrects or supplements documents or makes justifications on his/her own initiative or upon the request of the Vietnam IP Office, the time limit for substantive examination may be prolonged for a period of time during which the applicant does so.
(vii) Notification of substantive examination results
On the date of expiration of the time limit for substantive examination of an application at the latest, the Vietnam IP Office shall send the applicant one of the following notices:
(viii) Notification of refusal
If the applicant to whom the Vietnam IP Office has sent a Notice on its intended refusal fails to correct errors or unsatisfactorily corrects errors or makes no opposition or makes unreasonable opposition to the intended rejection within the set time limit, the Vietnam IP Office shall send a Notice on its refusal of the application.
When dissatisfaction is in the decision of refusal of examiners, the applicant may appeal against the decision of refusal with Director General of IP Vietnam or initiate lawsuits at court in accordance with procedures mentioned above.
(ix) Notification of intention to grant GI registration and request to pay fee
If examiners judge that the application fulfills the statutory requirements for a GI to be protected in Vietnam, Vietnam IP Office will issue a Notice of its intention to grant the GI registration and request to pay fee for the issue of a GI registration to the applicant.
(x) Issue the GI Registration Certificate
Within 10 days after applicants pay fully and on time the prescribed fees and charges, the Vietnam IP Office shall carry out the procedures for granting the GI Registration Certificate.
(xi) Entry into the National Register of Industrial Property and publication of the GI Registration Certificate
The GI Registration Certificate shall be recorded in the National Register of GIs and the decision on granting the GI registration shall be published by the Vietnam IP Office in the Industrial Property Official Gazette within two (2) months from the date of issuance and after applicants pay a publication fee.