Vietnam fights US company trying to steal its ST25 rice brand patent

By Hoai Thu, Phuong Anh   April 30, 2021 | 01:11 am PT
Vietnam fights US company trying to steal its ST25 rice brand patent
A customer holds a pack of ST25 rice at a store in Ho Chi Minh City on April 23, 2021. Photo by VnEpxress/Quynh Tran.
The Vietnam Trade Office in the U.S. is helping a Vietnamese company fight a U.S. company that it trying to illegally patent the world's best rice, ST25 from Vietnam.

Bui Huy Son, the head of the office, said the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has been apprised that ST25 was developed by a group of Vietnamese scientists.

"We stressed that this is the pride of Vietnam's agriculture and expressed concern about the possibility of the patent being registered by individuals or organizations in the U.S.," he told VnExpress.

The USPTO has given instructions to the Vietnam Trade Office on how to file an opposition to the registration by U.S. firm I&T Enterprise Inc, the company trying to steal the patent.

The USPTO is set to publish the application by I&T Enterprise on May 4, and Ho Quang Cua, the farmer-scientist who led a group in developing ST25, and his son’s company need to file an opposition by June 4.

Several Vietnamese ministries are working with Cua’s company to complete the legal documents, and he has also hired a law firm for assistance.

Should I&T Enterprise register the ST25 trademark, Vietnamese companies will not be able to export the rice to the U.S. under the same name.

The strain won the first prize in the 2019 World’s Best Rice Contest.

U.S. companies have been caught in the past trying to patent India’s basmati rice – a generic name comprising many varieties – and the medicinal properties of turmeric, among many other similar transgressions.

In both cases India won lawsuits and retained the patents.

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