Saudi govt delists ‘Kernal’ rice trademark on Pakistan’s objection

Published December 9, 2020
Farmers sowing basmati paddy in a field. Pakistan is one of the top five rice exporting countries in the world.
Farmers sowing basmati paddy in a field. Pakistan is one of the top five rice exporting countries in the world.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has succeeded in cancelling the illegal registration of ‘Kernal’ for trademark by an overseas rice company, Commerce Adviser Razak Dawood disclosed on Tuesday.

The adviser did not mention the name of the country or the company which had sought trademark registration in his tweets, but interactions with senior officials in various ministries confirmed that the registration had happened in Saudi Arabia.

This is the second time that a company in Saudi Arabia tried to monopolise the well-known trademark of ‘Kernel’ rice. Back in 2003, a leading Saudi company importing rice from different sources including Pakistan applied for registration of a trademark “Kernel.” However, timely action by the commercial section of Pakistani mission in Jeddah compelled Saudi authorities to refuse the registration in the Kingdom.

Rice Exporters Associa­tion of Pakistan (Reap) Chairman Abdul Qayum Paracha told Dawn that the issue was settled by the Saudi government.

“The cancellation of trade mark will provide more protection to Pakistani brands and will lead to more exports,” he added.

Neither the government officials nor the Reap chairman disclosed the name of the company which has registered ‘Kernal’ as trademark.

On Aug 6 this year, Reap had sent a letter to the Ministry of Commerce to raise the issue diplomatically with the Saudi government for the earliest resolution.

The ministry was informed that a Saudi Arabia-based rice export company had illegally registered the word ‘Kernal’ as a brand name which is similar to ‘Super Kernel’ — a premium rice variety grown in Pakistan.

According to Reap, there is a lot of similarity between word ‘Kernal’ and ‘Kernel’. The association believes that the similar sounding words would have confused consumers the world over.

On the request of the Reap, an official source said, the government of Pakistan had taken up the issue with the Saudi authorities to cancel the word ‘Kernal’ from its trademark list because ‘Super Kernel’ is a type of rice variety grown in Pakistan and legally it cannot be registered as a brand name.

“We have received the cancellation certificate,” the commerce adviser confirmed to Dawn.

“This was tantamount to unfair use of intellectual property of Pakistan, as the word is similar to ‘Super Kernel’, a premium Pakis­tani rice variety,” he said.

The adviser thanked Reap for bringing the issue to the Ministry of Com­mer­ce’s notice. “I urge exporters to keep informing ministry of commerce of such violations so that we can protect Pakistan’s intellectual property overseas,” he added.

According to Reap, Pakistan is the 13th largest rice producer in the world and the 4th largest rice exporting country, with a 15 per cent share in Global Rice Industry.

Different varieties of rice grown in Pakistan include Super Basmati and Super Kernel Basmati Rice among others.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2020

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