Mai Hà, Associate Professor and Chairman of the Việt Nam Association of Intellectual Property Rights, speaks to Hải Quan (Customs) newspaper about the poor vision of Vietnamese enterprises in acquiring trade marks for their products.
In your opinion, what are the major hurdles preventing Vietnamese enterprises from implementing the Law on Intellectual Property Rights?
In my opinion, the first hurdle is lack of vision by management boards. Intellectual property rights are legally defined as intangible assets, yet in reality, they are the enterprises’ main assets when seeking to earn from the sales of their products.
Many enterprise heads have not realised the importance of obtaining trade marks for their products. As a result, the firms violate the intellectual property rights of other enterprises or are caught in other legal disputes. Second, other enterprises may copy the their product designs after they have spent a lot of money and effort developing them.
Such damage is avoidable if management boards have trademark knowledge.
However, in Việt Nam many people have argued that as most Vietnamese enterprises are small or medium-size, their financial capacity is limited and they cannot afford to pay the trademark registration fee. They also argue that access to information is poor. I totally object to such poor arguments. According to our Law on Intellectual Property Rights, the fee for trademark registration is affordable to most firms. So the ball is now in their courts. If the enterprises see the benefits of having trademarks for their products, they will go for them immediately. This is something the Government cannot do for them.
In addition, in my opinion, our legal system is lacking. Vietnamese enterprises are currently not accustomed to seek legal aid from lawyers in their business operations. Coupled with that, our lawyers’ knowledge about international legal practices is still limited. As Việt Nam integrates deeper and deeper internationally, our legal system must be on par with that in other countries for the development of the national economy and business.
It is a fact that companies’ knowledge about intellectual property rights is still limited. But quite a few have also deliberately violated the law on intellectual property rights. Do you have any suggestions to deal with this problem?
At the beginning, quite a few enterprises breached the law either unconsciously or unintentionally. But later, some enterprises broke the law intentionally to seek profits. The driving arguments for those enterprises may be that they didn’t intend to expand their production scale. So, in my opinion, functional agencies should organise training workshops and communication campaigns to raise awareness for enterprises about the benefits of having intellectual property rights. In addition, they should adopt policies to help enterprises understand more about their legal rights and responsibility towards their products with intellectual property rights, including Geographical Indicators or trademarks. — VNS