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Struggle against intellectual property infringement

Weak regulations make enterprises hesitate

From the perspective of an enterprise providing IP services, Mr. Nguyen Vu Quan from Vision and Associates Company Limited under the Vietnam IP Association commented: Recently, efforts in anti-counterfeiting and infringing goods by enforcement agencies have achieved positive changes. However, in reality, there are some shortcomings that need to be overcome, especially the enforcement system for the offender and the holder.

Specifically, the IPR enforcement system in Vietnam offers 3 measures to deal with IP infringements: civil, administrative and criminal measures. In particular, administrative measure is the most used method because it is less expensive and quicker. However, the fine is not high enough to deter violators. For example, committing acts of infringing patent rights on a large scale with products sold nationwide, have a maximum penalty of only VND 500 million. In fact, the profits are very high compared to fines. According to Mr. Nguyen Vu Quan, to handle IP infringements, both civil measure and criminal measure are rarely used, in which criminal measure is the least used one. With criminal measures, it is very difficult to prove intentional acts (the objects of deliberate trade in counterfeit goods when arrested, never admit that the goods are counterfeit ones).

In this regard, Assoc. Prof, Dr. Nguyen Quoc Thinh, the Head of Brand Management, the University of Commerce emphasized: In Vietnam, almost all goods may be counterfeit ones. Notably, IP infringement is now breaking the domain name, which is very difficult to control. This is because major violations are being handled by administrative measures. Over 98% of IPR infringements are being handled by administrative means, and just over 1% of them are judicial proceedings, through courts and law firms.

“The legal framework is weak and the sanctions are not strong enough. This is a problem in implementation. The administrative sanctioning agency does not have enough manpower to handle judicially. In other countries, these issues are highly privatized,” Mr. Thinh said.

In addition to the above limitations, difficulties and challenges in the fight against counterfeit goods and IP infringement also comes from hesitation, non-cooperation of enterprises. Mr. Nguyen Phuong Minh, Deputy Head of Complaints Management Division, Department of Intellectual Property, under the Ministry of Science and Technology said: “Some property rights owners are afraid of dealing with the problem of fake goods. When the authorities call for cooperation to verify, they rarely cooperate.”

Concurrent with this view, Mr. Thinh further analyzed: In fact, there are many companies hesitating to cooperate with authorities in anti-counterfeiting because when publishing products of enterprises with counterfeit goods, it may affect the prestige of enterprises. Notably, in many cases, after a company has cooperated with the authorities to identify the difference and how to identify real goods and counterfeit goods, the counterfeit goods are then made in a more sophisticated way.

Enterprises need to establish rights

According to economist Vo Tri Thanh, Director of the Institute for Strategic Branding and Competition: “Vietnam joins many IP conventions but paradoxically, Vietnam is ranked at the bottom in protecting IP rights. Currently, when Vietnam joins many FTAs, especially the Vietnam-EU FTA or the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership – CPTPP), IP commitments are very high. “The anti-counterfeiting story as well as the protection of IP rights is not merely a matter of fact-but a way of doing business and is the story of creative competition, belief in Vietnamese enterprises and prestige of Vietnam. The issue of diffusion, fair competition is much bigger than the story of just going to handle the violation. I think Vietnam needs two priorities. Firstly, focus on health and safety for people. Secondly, Vietnam needs to move to a new development stage with more creativity and productivity,” said Mr. Vo Tri Thanh.

Agreeing with the overview of expert Vo Tri Thanh, Mr. Nguyen Quoc Thinh stated that in addition to overcoming existing restrictions, to fight against counterfeit goods and IP infringement, enterprises need to note the establishment rights. There are currently two rules in establishing IPR. In many countries and in Vietnam, whoever registers in advance will be given priority.

In addition, each enterprise has many intellectual properties such as business secrets, customer lists, customer information systems, market access and distribution systems. Currently, nearly 90% of enterprises do not identify intellectual property and do not provide protection measures. This is very unfortunate. To protect your intellectual property, you do not need to go through the process of establishing your rights. Under the IP Law, enterprises will automatically be protected but with the condition that businesses have to apply security measures, assets such as confidential stamp and security regulations. In the immediate future, enterprises need to increase the brand exposure points, publicize the point of sale, review distribution system to make consumers have trust in the products of enterprises.

By Thanh Nguyen/ Hoang Anh –