HA NOI — The Ministry of Science and Technology has fined property developer Vincon VND14 million (US$700) for violating intellectual property law by using a brand name that could be confused with another, more famous developer.
Earlier the Vincom Joint-stock Company, one of the country's leading property developers, filed a lawsuit against the Vincon Land and Finance Investment Joint-stock Company for imitating its brand name.
Vincom, which owns Vincom Towers, established its brand name in 2002 while the Vincon company has been in operation for just three years.
The Ministry ruled that the Vincon brandname sounded too similar to Vincom and Vincon had used its name in all its signboards, transactions, company stationary, advertising and at all of its branches in central Da Nang City and Thua Thien-Hue Province, violating Government regulations on intellectual property rights and trademarks.
The ministry's Intellectual Property Scientific Institute announced that Vincon sounded and looked too similar to Vincom, which had already been registered, and this similarity could cause confusion among customers.
Vincom registered its trademark with the National Office of Intellectual Property of Viet Nam in 2005 and is now protected in more than 20 other countries under the Madrid system for the international registration of trademarks (Madrid Agreement and Madrid Protocol).
Apart from an administrative fine, the ministry also required Vincon to change its name and remove the brand name from company stationary, advertising, legal transactions, and advertising.
Vincom's chairman Le Khac Hiep said he hoped the decision would motivate businesses to become more aware about the need to protect their trademark, and the necessity to challenge companies that attempted to live off the fame of well known brands.
Since the Ministerial verdict, Vincon has continued to use the brandname, announcing that it would introduce changes to its marketing and stationary in February 2011. Vincom has insisted on the changes being immediately made and following a failed meeting between the two companies, has decided to sue Vincon in the Ha Noi People's Court. — VNS