ISLAMABAD: Pakistan managed to revoke the unlawful registration of ‘Kernal’ by an overseas rice firm for a trademark, Commerce Advisor Razak Dawood declared on Tuesday.
The advisor did not state in his tweets the name of the country or organisation requesting approval of a trademark, but contacts with senior officials in separate ministries indicated that registration had occurred in Saudi Arabia.
This is the second time a corporation in Saudi Arabia has attempted to monopolise the well-known ‘Kernel’ rice trademark. “Back in 2003, a leading Saudi company importing rice from numerous outlets, including Pakistan, applied for the registration of a “Kernel” trademark. However, timely intervention by the Pakistani mission’s commercial branch in Jeddah prompted the Saudi authorities to deny registration in the Kingdom.
Pakistan Association of Rice Exporters (Reap) Chairman Abdul Qayum Paracha told Dawn that the Saudi government had resolved the issue.
“The cancellation of a trademark will give Pakistani brands more protection and will lead to more exports,” he said.
The name of the corporation that has licenced ‘Kernal’ as a trademark has not been revealed by any government authorities or the Reap chairman.
Reap sent a letter to the Ministry of Commerce on 6 August this year to discuss the issue with the Saudi government diplomatically for the earliest resolution.
The ministry was told that the term ‘Kernal’ was unlawfully licenced by a Saudi Arabia-based rice export firm as a brand name that is similar to ‘Super Kernel’, a premium rice variety grown in Pakistan.
There is a lot of resemblance between the terms ‘Kernal’ and ‘Kernel,’ according to Reap. The company claims that the identical sounding terms may have misled buyers around the world.
The government of Pakistan took up the issue with the Saudi authorities to cancel the term ‘Kernal’ from its trademark list at the behest of the Reap, an official source said, because ‘Super Kernel’ is a form of rice variety grown in Pakistan and can not legally be registered as a brand name.
The trade adviser stated to Dawn, “We have received the cancellation certificate.”
This was equal to wrongful use of Pakistan’s intellectual property, as the expression is similar to ‘Mega Kernel,’ he added, a luxury Pakis-tani rice type.
Reap was praised by the advisor for taking the problem to the attention of the Ministry of Commerce. “I urge exporters to continue to inform the Ministry of Trade of such violations so that we can protect the intellectual property of Pakistan overseas,” he said.
Pakistan is the world’s 13th largest rice producer and the 4th largest rice exporting region, according to Reap, with a 15 percent stake in the global rice industry.
Super Basmati and Super Kernel Basmati Rice, among others are separate types of rice grown in Pakistan.