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Jasmine Rice

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During the past decade, Jasmine rice has been a target of copying and modifications in western countries, especially the United States, in order to develop aromatic rice varieties that can compete with Jasmine rice in the US and ultimately in the world market. In case of Jasmati (registered trade mark of RiceTec, Inc.), which is genetically quite unrelated to Thai Jasmine rice, the word “Jasmati” can easily confuse consumers into believing that such rice is a progeny of the world- famous Jasmine rice, grown in Thailand. To resolve this act of unfair trade practice, Thailand should use legal, business, and diplomatic means to convince the US government into taking appropriate actions in order to protect the principle of fair competition and to protect US consumers rights against acts of passing-off. Nevertheless, this Jasmati incidence should help Thai exporters of rice and other goods and services realize the importance of intellectual property protection, especially as applied to international trade and services, including trademarks, service marks, certification marks, famous or well-known marks, and geographical indications
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  V 1.04 dated 30 November 1998  New Challenges in IPRs Protections: Biological Diversity & Biotechnology Jasmine Rice Crisis A Thai Perspective  by Lerson Tanasugarn, Ph.D. Associate Judge, Central IP & IT Court and Director, Office of IP Policy Research, CU IPInstitute http:ip-institute.org Regional Symposium on Intellectual Property, Economy and SocialJustice, 30 November 1998.  Dr. Lerson Tanasugarn Abstract During the past decade, Jasmine rice has been a target of copying and modifications in westerncountries, especially the United States, in order to develop aromatic rice varieties that can competewith Jasmine rice in the US and ultimately in the world market. In case of Jasmati (registeredtrade mark of RiceTec, Inc.), which is genetically quite unrelated to Thai Jasmine rice, the word“Jasmati” can easily confuse consumers into believing that such rice is a progeny of the world-famous Jasmine rice, grown in Thailand. To resolve this act of unfair trade practice, Thailandshould use legal, business, and diplomatic means to convince the US government into takingappropriate actions in order to protect the principle of fair competition and to protect USconsumers rights against acts of passing-off. Nevertheless, this Jasmati incidence should helpThai exporters of rice and other goods and services realize the importance of intellectual propertyprotection, especially as applied to international trade and services, including trademarks, servicemarks, certification marks, famous or well-known marks, and geographical indications. Acknowledgments The author thanks the following people for their kind assistance with data collection: MR.Sukhumphan Paripatr, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, along with Officers of the Royal ThaiEmbassy in Washington, DC, Dr. Songkran Chitrakon of Ministry of Agriculture & Cooperatives,Dr. Sutas Sriwatanapong of Biotech, Mr. Santi Ratanasuwan of DIP, Mr. Vitoon Liamchamroonof BioThai, Ms. Sareeya Galasintu of DUA, and Ms. Virginia Loo Farris of USIS.The authors thanks many judges of the IPITC for critically reading the manuscript.The author also thanks the National Research Council of Thailand, The BRT Project, the ThaiRice Exporter Association, the United States Information Service (USIS), and ChulalongkornUniversity Intellectual Property Institute (CU-IPI) for providing raw and processed data.Finally, the author thanks Ms. Ragchanok Teeragawinsakul, Ms. Amporn Chaluaydumrong, Ms.Nalinee Udomthawee, Ms. Kanayda Bhusawang and Mr. Klaewkla Kaewthai for backgroundresearch; and Mrs. Duenpen Promto for secretarial assistance. Any reference to this paper should be accompanied by a citation to:Tanasugarn, L. (1998) Jasmine rice crisis: A Thai perspective. In  Intellectual Property and International Trade Law Forum(Special Issue 1998).  Central Intellectual Property andInternational Trade Court. Bangkok, Thailand. Reprinted inhttp://lerson.org/ip/jasmine1.html  V 1.03 8/3/03 Jasmine Rice Crisis: A Thai Perspective 1 Lerson Tanasugarn 2 Table of Contents 1.The Crisis3.Considerations2.Background Information3.1Utility Patent2.1The Jasmine Rice Business3.2Plant Variety Protection2.2Jasmine 853.3Convention on Biol. Diversity2.3Roles of Doguet-Dishman Rice Company3.4Trademark 2.4Roles of RiceTec Corporation3.5Well-Known Mark 2.5US Patents on Jasmine Rice3.6Certification Mark 2.6Rice Varieties Registered Under US-PVPA3.7Geographical Indication2.7Trademarks of Jasmine Rice in the US3.8Consumer Protection2.8DNA Fingerprint of Jasmine Rice and Jasmati4.Recommendations2.9Summary of Background InformationReferences   1  This paper is a modification of the srcinal edition (V1.02), which appeared in the Intellectual Propertyand International Trade Law Forum (Special Issue: First Year Anniversary of the Central IP&IT Court -1998) The author, who is also the copyright owner, wrote this paper from October 7-20, 1998 in hisspare time. Any opinion expressed here is the author’s own opinion and may not necessarily be theopinion of the Central IP&IT Court or that of the Chulalongkorn University Intellectual PropertyInstitute. The author, who is not an expert in US law, has attempted to the best of his ability to writeand proofread this review but cannot offer any warranty as to the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of the information provided, or as to the suitability of application to the reader’s need. The author will beindebted to any reader who reports any errors, omissions, or otherwise any possible improvements to thisarticle. Abbreviations: IRRI = International Rice Research Institute, CBD = Convention on BiologicalDiversity, DIP = Department of Intellectual Property, Ministry of Commerce, MTA = Material TransferAgreement, NGO = nongovernmental organization, RAFI = Rural Advancement FoundationInternational, TRIPs = Agreement On Trade-Related Aspects Of Intellectual Property Rights, IncludingTrade In Counterfeit Goods, UPOV = Union Internationale Pour la Protection des Obtentions Végétales(Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants), USDA = US Department of Agriculture, USIS =United States Information Service, USPTO = US Patent and Trademark Office, US-PVPA = US PlantVariety Protection Act, WTO = World Trade Organization. 2  Dr. Lerson Tanasugarn received a joint AB (magna cum laude)- AM and also a Ph.D. in biology fromHarvard University. Dr. Tanasugarn is presently an Associate Judge at the Central Intellectual Propertyand International Trade Court. He is also the Director of Office of Intellectual Property Policy Researchat Chulalongkorn University Intellectual Property Institute. His past appointments include Science andTechnology Advisor to the Prime Minister, Advisor to the Minister of Science, Technology, andEnvironment, Advisor to the Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, Expert Scientist Attached tothe Standing House Committee on Science and Technology, and Member of the National ResearchCouncil (Engineering and Industrial Research). In addition, he also lectures biochemistry at the Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University. Since 1989, Dr. Tanasugarn has been on the Ministerial Committeethat oversees and scrutinizes the drafting of all intellectual property laws in Thailand. He has also been aconsulting negotiator and licensing agreement drafter for agencies including the National Science andTechnology Development Agency (NSTDA), the Thailand Research Fund (TRF), and the Office of Technology Transfer at Chulalongkorn University Intellectual Property Institute.  2 Current Issues in Intellectual PropertyDr. Lerson Tanasugarn 1.   The Crisis Figure 1-1:Rice is Thailand’s Number One Agricultural Export In 1998, the top ten products exported from Thailand are computers and peripherals,ready-made clothing, integrated circuits, rice, canned seafood, vehicles & parts, rubber,television receivers, frozen shrimps, and jewelry. Note: This Figure does not includethe service sector, of which tourism has always been the most important. Source:statistics collected and disseminated by Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce. (MOC,1998) Since ancient time, Thailand has been a major agricultural producer, withrice as her most important exported product. Recently, although industrial goods andtourism have replaced rice as the breadwinner (no pun intended), rice is still Thailand’snumber one agricultural export. (Please see Figure 1-1.) The most famous type of Thairice is called “Khao Hom Mali,” which has been translated into “Jasmine Rice” in English.In 1998, however, the Thai news media reported that a US company had registeredJasmine rice under the US intellectual property protection system.
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