Vietnam Intellectual Property Law Guide

Vietnam has been a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”) since 1976. It has been a contracting party to a certain number of WIPO-related treaties or conventions, including the Bern Convention (since 2004), Brussels Convention (since 2006) and Paris Convention (since 1949), the Madrid Agreement (since 1939), the Madrid Protocol (since 2006) and the Patent Cooperation Treaty (since 1993). The Intellectual Property (“IP”) legal and regulatory framework of Vietnam was overhauled and greatly improved in preparation for WTO accession. Most importantly, it adopted the first Law on Intellectual Property in 2005 (as first revised in 2009). The Law on Intellectual Property is comprehensive in coverage and raises the legal IP framework to modern standards. The adoption of the Law on Intellectual Property was necessary in order to make Vietnam compliant with the WTO’s TRIPS agreement, to which Vietnam is a party. It was also needed for Vietnam to fulfil its commitments under the bilateral trade agreement with the US signed in 2000.

Over more than 15 years of implementation, the Law on Intellectual Property has revealed certain deficiencies for the effective management and enforcement of intellectual economic rights (“IPRs”). In addition, Vietnam has negotiated and signed numerous FTAs with their own specific IP commitments, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and European Union–Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) in 2019. Therefore, the Law on Intellectual Property was further revised in 2019 and is now undergoing additional revisions to remedy existing shortcomings and to ensure consistency with other laws.

Under the 2005 Law on Intellectual Property, as amended and supplemented in 2019 (herein below referred to as the “IP Law”), the IP system of Vietnam is divided into three areas:

  1. Copyright and related rights – administered by the Copyright Office of Vietnam (the “COV”) under the authority of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (the “MOCST”);
  2. Industrial economic rights – administered by the National Office of Intellectual Property (the “NOIP”) under the authority of the Ministry of Science and Technology (the “MOST”); and
  3. Rights to plant varieties – administered by the Plant Variety Protection Office (the “PVPO”) under the authority of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (the “MARD”).

Unregistered IPRs under the IP Law comprise IPRs to copyrighted works and copyright-related rights, IPRs to tradenames, and business secrets. Registered IPRs comprise IPRs to inventions/ utility solutions, industrial designs, layout designs of semiconductor integrated circuits (herein after referred as “layout design”), trademarks, geographical indications, and plant varieties. For registered IPRs, applications for registration of IPRs subjects shall be made to the respective administration authorities as mentioned above.

In addition, the IP Law provides for IPRs to anti-unfair competition which shall be established on the basis of competitive activities in business.

The legal guide below provides material legal provisions on protection of IPRs in Vietnam.

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Nguyen Thi Hong Anh

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