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Illegal software use could blacklist firms

Update: October, 27/2014 - 07:41
Lac Viet English- Vietnamese e-dictionary is a low-cost software but it is usually used illegally. — Photo Lac Viet

HCM CITY (VNS) — Companies, especially exporters, using illegal computer software face the threat of being banned from access to large international markets like the US, experts warn.

Both local and international intellectual property laws are being tightened over time and penalties for intellectual property infringement made harsher, they said.

Thus, besides facing litigation risks in their own backyard, violating companies will also be blacklisted by big foreign importers, they said.

In Viet Nam, illegal use of software may leave businesses facing penal crimes and harsh penalties under the law. Copyright owners can request a court order to force perpetrators to stop the illegal act, tender a formal apology, take corrective actions, and pay damages.

According to international IP lawyers, exporters could face severe penalties since 36 US states have ratified the Unfair Competition Act, which requires all manufacturers and shippers around the world to use legal and licensed computer hardware and software in their business activities.

Tran Manh Hung of law firm Baker & McKenzie said companies could also face legal actions against them by competitors anywhere in the world.

Inability to prove the legitimacy of computer hardware or software, or failure to cease using illegal computer products within 90 days following receipt of a formal notice could be subject to compensation, confiscation, and, more importantly, being blacklisted for entering the US market.

But despite warnings, many companies operating in Viet Nam, both domestic and foreign, continue to violate the law.

In the past several months checks have been carried out at many foreign and local businesses companies and computer dealers, and most were found breaching software ownership to one degree or another – for example, foreign companies buy limited software licences as a cover-up.

Pham Xuan Phuc, deputy chief inspector at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said wholly foreign-owned companies know best about intellectual property laws but still deliberately violate them and illegally use intellectual property that does not belong to them for gain.

During a check carried out last month by the ministry and the High-tech Crime Police of the Ministry of Public Security, HCM City-based Taiwanese company Perfect Viet Nam Medical Industry Company was found using unlicensed software worth billions of dong.

On the 44 computers checked, the inspectors found 124 applications, including Autodesk graphic design software and even low-cost software like Lac Viet's dictionary. Of the 124 applications, the company could produce licences for only 10.

Viet Nam News got in touch with the company, but it refused to answer any questions. — VNS

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