Tin Pháp lý
IP should be part of businesses' development strategies

22 April 2016
Viet Nam News

Businesses need to be fully aware of the importance of intellectual property (IP) and make it a critical part of their development strategies, especially when the country is now a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

TPP, the world's biggest free trade agreement with its 12 member countries making up 40 per cent of the global economy, has an IP chapter that covers patents, industrial designs, trademarks, geographical indications, copyrights, among others.

Viet Nam's efforts to protect IP rights have yet to meet the real demand as well as international commitments, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Tran Viet Thanh said at a discussion in Ha Noi on Wednesday.

Thành said the country has implemented IP rights from the central to grassroots levels with such programmes as the one on fighting smuggling, trade fraud and counterfeits, and the other on preventing IP infringements.

However, the violation of IP rights is still rising and becomes more complicated, he emphasised.

The market control force has dealt with more than 22,400 cases relating to fake and low-quality goods and IP rights violation, said Pham Van Toan – Deputy Chief Inspector of the Science and Technology Ministry (MoST).

Of the figure, MoST inspectors have handled 752 cases and fined 344 violating organisations while their counterparts in the Culture, Sports and Tourism Ministry have tackled 419 cases and fined 384 violators.

As a TPP member, Viet Nam must realise the commitments on IP rights, foreign investment, environment and labour standards, competition and State-owned enterprises, and the settlement of disputes, Deputy Minister Thanh said.

To promote the law enforcement's effectiveness, Toan stressed the need for aligning relevant legal documents, such as the Law on Intellectual Property, the Penal Code, the Law on Customs and the Law on Pharmaceuticals, with the reality and international commitments.

While the law enforcement staff should receive intensive training, inspections and the punishment of violations must be strengthened, he added.

Building on the many years of cooperation with relevant Vietnamese governmental bodies, Roland Chan, Senior Director for Compliance Programs, Asia Pacific, BSA The Software Alliance, shared a few notes on the risks that local companies might face,

including cybersecurity concerns in a world that is now hyperlinked to the internet. In response to a question about how businesses should be aware of the potential troubles that they may face using unlicensed software in TPP, Mr. Roland Chan pointed out that first of

all, it may be a legal question. Under the current Vietnamese law, using unlicensed software constitutes a breach of IP protection laws, including for computer software.

"As an equally important concern, studies have shown that there is a close correlation between the use of unlicensed software and malware intrusions. Ensuring the legal use of properly licensed software is a key first step an organisation can take to improve information security. As a next step, by implementing an effective Software Asset Management (SAM) solution in place, businesses can take full control of their software inventory and reduce risk significantly,"Roland said.

The Economic Counsellor of the US Embassy in Ha Noi, John Hill told the seminar that standing up the necessity of transparent laws, regulations and procedures to comply with this very board IPR regime will be an imposing task for Viet Nam. He added that enforcing the standards will be even more daunting task for Viet Nam as a stage of development.

And at the national level, TPP makes it possible for signatory governments themselves to be held accountable for actions inconsistent with the agreement's IP provisions. Under an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, an aggrieved foreign company could take a government into international arbitration. This could really put Viet Nam on the hook.

The representative said in the long run, better IP safeguards will attract FDI and help Viet Nam build the skills and capabilities that will carry the country over the middle-income trap.

At the discussion, many insiders called on companies to survey the market regularly to timely detect any violations of their IP rights.

The function, held by the MoST and the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was among activities in response to the World Intellectual Property Day (April 26).
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