Anyone who wants to sell bun bo Hue, or Hue-style beef noodle soup, will have to travel all the way to Thua Thien-Hue Province, the famous Vietnamese delicacy’s birthplace in central Vietnam, to obtain a permission to use the name.
Unreasonable and weird as it may sound, this is one of 19 regulations included in a set of rules recently released by the Thua Thien-Hue administration, intended to place a trademark protection on its signature dish around the world.
Hue is the capital city of Thua Thien-Hue, where the bun bo Hue dish is born and best served.
The document, signed on July 13 by the province’s standing deputy chairman Phan Ngoc Tho, is meant to stipulate the management and use of the “Bun bo Hue” brand.
It states that the Thua Thien-Hue administration is the only owner of the brand, the management of which has been authorized for the province’s tourism association. Any usage of the brand must be approved by its owner, or the Thua Thien-Hue administration.
A bowl of bun bo Hue
The regulations have sparked public concern, and outrage, for its infeasibility and irrationality.
People who have been selling bun bo Hue for ages said it is unreasonable to ask them to travel to Thua Thien-Hue to apply for a license to name their dish that way.
Nguyen Hoang Thuy Vy, general secretary of the Thua Thien-Hue Tourism Association, keeps no secret of such a regulation.
“In principle, with a trademarked and protected brand, any individual or organization who wants to use the “Bun bo Hue” brand must register with the province’s administration,” Vy said.
The bun bo Hue seller will then have to undergo a procedure to see if they meet food safety and cuisine standards to cook and sell the noodle soup, according to the general secretary.
“If passed, they are allowed to use the brand ‘Bun bo Hue’,” Vy said.
“Otherwise, they are only able to name their dish or eatery as ‘Bun bo’, ‘Bo Hue’, or even ‘Hue bo’, but never ‘Bun bo Hue’.”
Vy also added that it is stipulated that bun bo Hue sellers have to come to the dish’s birthplace to apply for the license.
“But it will be a mandatory in the longer term,” she reassured. “In an immediate term, we will not insist that they do so.”
Vy admitted that it is impossible to require people from across the world to go to Hue for the brand use registration.
“We will see how the plan works and make necessary changes,” she added.
The official said as long as the brand is owned and protected by the province’s administration, “there will be no monopoly or corruption.”
Even Tho, the province’s deputy chairman who signed approval for the trademark plan, admitted that the ambitious plan lacks feasibility.
“We acknowledge that it is never a possible thing to ask people to come to Hue to register to use the Bun bo Hue brand,” he said.
“But we have to enact this plan so that no one will steal our brand.”
Tho said the plan is only intended to “elevate the value of the bun bo Hue brand.”