Vinataba: Cigarette smuggling continues
Responding to Sumatra, which has affirmed its rights over JET and Hero cigarette brands, Vinataba said the proof Sumatra used was not sufficient to show ‘use in reality’ of JET and Hero in Vietnam.
Sumatra said that the National Office for Intellectual Property (NOIP) has granted 67 certificates on trademark certificates for two cigarette products to Sumatra since 1990.
In reply, Tran Son Chau, CEO of Vinataba, said on December 4, 11 and 24, NOIP released 46 notices, informing Vinataba that Sumatra had not provided any additional document related to the suspension/cancelation of the validity for 46 trademarks.
“As such, regarding the 46 trademarks, Sumatra cannot refute our argument that Sumatra has not used the trademarks for the last five years,” Chau said.
“On December 25 and 29, 2015, we filed 46 documents to NOIP, requesting the office to cancel and abrogate the validity of the trademarks,” he said.
As for the 21 remaining trademarks, Sumatra has responded in written documents, stating that it joined forces with domestic companies to sell JET and Hero products in Vietnam. The products are available at duty-free shops and they are imported legally to Vietnam through the Moc Bai Border Gate.
Vinataba said it was highly possible that Sumatra keeps selling products in small quantity through duty-free shops so as to maintain its trademark rights, thus lending a hand to Jet and Hero products to be smuggled into Vietnam.
“We think it is necessary to inspect the sale of tobacco products at duty-free shops at Tan Son Nhat, Noi Bai Airports and Moc Bai Border Gate to clarify Sumatra’s activities, and to find more proofs about the relation between Sumatra and the activities of smuggling JET and Hero products into Vietnam,” he said.
What do ministries and branches say?
NOIP has not made final decision on the matter.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) has voiced its concern about the increased tobacco smuggling through the southwest border line.
The ministry said smugglers have been using many methods and sophisticated tricks to bring JET and Hero cigarettes into Vietnam
Sumatra registered for trademark protection for JET and Hero, but it has not carried out business activities in Vietnam.
Meanwhile, products bearing the protected trademarks have been smuggled into Vietnam in large quantities, which has had negative impact on domestic production, people’s health and Vietnam’s anti-smuggling activities.
MOIT has asked the Ministry of Science and Technology to check the legal compliance of Sumatra.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also said preventing smuggled and low-quality goods is necessary to protect the national interests.
Therefore, the ministry has urged management agencies and enterprises to take necessary measures to prevent goods from illegally entering Vietnam.