Intellectual property violations on the rise
By Hien Nguyen – The Saigon Times Daily
HCMC – Violations of the Intellectual Property Law have been increasing in recent years with nearly 2,770 cases and fines totaling VND8 billion (US$400,000) last year, the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam reported on Thursday.
The majority of violations investigated by Market Monitors related to industrial designs and trademarks, the office said at a conference it organized in HCMC in collaboration with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in HCMC.
“Authorities have increased their investigations and Market Monitors and inspectors from the science and technology sector have found thousands of violations,” Hung said.
According to the office, around 415 industry design violation cases were reported in 2008 compared to 258 cases in 2007. For brand-name violations, there were about 2,268 cases in 2008 compared to 2,227 cases in 2007.
Last year, nearly 3,000 foreign companies and individuals applied to the office for protection of trademarks and recognition of inventions. There were 204 trademark applications from Vietnamese and local companies.
“Vietnam has more than 300,000 companies operating but only about 100,000 have registered to protect their trademarks. This is a modest number,” the office reported.
According to Hung, books, films and video discs feature prominently. Violations have risen because punishments are light with the majority of the violators being warned or having property confiscated. When it comes to court, many cases are complex and staffs aren’t trained in intellectual property, Hung said.
According to Hung, ignorance is one reason for both the increase in violations and the small number of Vietnamese enterprises registered to have their brand names, industry designs and innovations protected. To remedy the situation, the office plans to disseminate IP information and develop Vietnam’s IP systems.
To promote intellectual property rights in the country, the office introduced the Industrial Property Digital Library (IP-Lib) project. The US$5.6 million project was funded with Official Development Assistance (ODA) from the Japanese government.
With the project, information on published IP applications and granted titles of patent, industrial design and trademark can be accessed. This will help avoid repeating research, provide hints for invention and predict new demands.
The movement to protect intellectual property has been in place in Vietnam since 1980.
The heart of intellectual property protection is the Intellectual Property Law and associated decrees and circulars. Trade and customs laws also protect companies and individuals. Vietnam passed the Intellectual Property Law in 2005 after joining the Berne Convention in 2004 to protect copyright owners.