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MoST: Taking advantage of enforcing IP rights

Update: November, 11/2021 - 08:18
Minister of Science and Technology Huỳnh Thành Đạt. — Photo quochoi.vn

Huỳnh Thành Đạt, Minister of Science and Technology (MoST) spoke to Vietnam News Agency about amending and supplementing a number of articles of the Intellectual Property (IP) Law, following the second plenary session of the 15th National Assembly (NA).

In the second plenary session of the 15th NA, you presented the proposal on amending and supplementing a number of articles of the Law on Intellectual Property (IP). Could you elaborate on the necessity of these adjustments?

The IP Law was approved in 2005, and now after 16 years of enforcement, the law has proved its role in regulating legal relations relating to IP – a special form of property.

However, the development context today is far different than it was in 2005. Việt Nam is shifting from simply using to creating intellectual property, contributing to the in-depth growth model.  

The amendments and supplements in the IP Laws of 2009 and 2019 largely respond to the commitment required by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Therefore, the law has yet to make a significant impact in research and innovation, nor ensure a comprehensive and effective legal framework for IP use and protection.

The adjustment of IP Law this time is an urgent demand to Việt Nam’s socio-economic development. This is reflected in the Party’s directions and the Government’s policies on perfecting a socialist-oriented market economy with industrialisation and modernisation to actively participate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, developing rapidly and sustainably on the foundation of science and technology, innovation, and digital transformation.

Furthermore, the current progress of extensive economic integration, with Việt Nam joining numerous international treaties, requires a significant improvement in the level of IP protection and rights enforcement, particularly CPTPP and the European Union - Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA). These global commitments must be legislated through the adjustments and supplements of IP Law.

Which direction will the amendment follow to promote the role of IP in encouraging creativity, taking advantage of, and improving the enforcement of IP rights?

Amending and supplementing IP Law needs to be conducted in a way that encourages creativity, ensuring stability, coherence, consistency, transparency, feasibility, that IP rights are protected and effectively enforced, while improving efficiency in state management regarding IP, contributing to the economic, cultural, and social development of the country.

This amendment of IP Law will focus on several groups of policies, including ensuring regulations regarding authors, copyright owners, performers, related rights owners in case of right transfer; encouraging the creation, usage, and popularisation of inventions, industrial designs, and layout designs funded by the State budget; facilitating registration procedures and right enactment processes; ensuring adequate and balanced protection; improving support relating to IP rights; enhancing efficiency in enforcing IP rights; ensuring strict and comprehensive fulfilment of international commitments in the process of global integration.

In particular, the proposed adjustments aim to implement policies encouraging the creation and usage of State-funded IP. The draft law proposes that for inventions, industrial designs, and layout designs that are the outcome of State-funded science-technology tasks, registration rights will be transferred to the units in charge of those undertakings.

Granting automatic and non-returnable registration rights will let units in charge of State-funded science-technology assignments become the right owners of the inventions, industrial and layout designs, which will become a major incentive for these units to enact these rights as soon as possible, as well as taking measures to protect and utilise these properties. As registered owners, the units in charge have the right to own, use, permit and prohibit usage of the properties.

On the basis of these rights, the units in charge can also actively use, transfer rights, or collaborate with enterprises to commercialise properties for profits as well as other benefits.

Furthermore, as technology transfer and commercialisation of inventions, industrial and layout designs are promoted, the State can collect tax and ensure policy objectives, such as job creation and social security.

Regarding benefit distribution for authors, Article 122 and 135 of the current IP Law guarantees benefits for authors of inventions, industrial and layout designs. Specifically, unless otherwise agreed, the minimum remuneration for the authors will be 10 per cent of the profit earned by using their inventions, industrial and layout designs; and 15 per cent of the amount received for each payment for the transfer of right to use.

The State will thereby achieve the key goals of increasing investment efficiency and enhancing inner science-technology capacity, thus propelling knowledge-based economic development.

Commenting on the adjustments in IP Law, NA Chair Vương Đình Huệ suggested considering including digital transformation in the law, in which online procedures to enact rights to industrial properties, online search for protectability, for trademarks and industrial designs database will be updated as fast as possible. What is your opinion on this matter?

Regarding digital transformation, with the 2019 amendment, the IP Law has set out regulations for online registration of industrial properties in Article 89. The National Office of Intellectual Property (NOIP) has been improving and maintaining the online registration system for industrial properties at level four (the highest level of online public services, which allows users to fill and submit forms, and pay fees online).

The NOIP has been digitalising applications for industrial properties rights. The current database system on industrial properties is being constantly updated and public online at http://iplib.ipvietnam.gov.vn/.

In particular, with the support of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), since 2019, the NOIP has deployed an additional online search tool called Wipopublish, which includes advanced features and allows synchronisation with the world database, as WIPO implements this system across multiple countries in the world. This online search tool Wipopublish is available at http://wipopublish.ipvietnam.gov.vn/.

Based on the search results, individuals and organisations can assess the ability to acquire protection for their trademarks, industrial designs, or inventions they are looking to register.

The Ministry of Science and Technology will continue to review and analyse to propose the Government to re-evaluate and amend regulations regarding industrial property data to best facilitate the public’s access to information.

What benefits does joining the new-generation Free Trade Agreements (FTA), especially with developed countries, offer Việt Nam in taking advantage of enforcing IP rights?

IP rights protection is considered a tool to encourage and drive creativity, innovation and fight against unfair competition, in order to utilise innovative products, especially new technologies in life and in economic development.

Therefore, responding to the commitment regarding IP in new-generation FTAs, with a high level of protection for IP, means creating favourable conditions for Vietnamese businesses to enjoy the return on investment in innovative actions, including broader and more accessible protection, transparent, fair, and appropriate procedures for IP right enactment – in addition to forming a good environment that can attract foreign technology transfer to improve domestic products, facilitating the improvement of domestic technology capability.

Effectively enforcing beneficial commitments also means violations will result in strict penalties, building confidence in a healthier and more competitive business environment.

However, opportunities and benefits always come with challenges and difficulties. In addition to benefits that must be exchanged to attract foreign investment, paving the way for Vietnamese businesses to penetrate the international market, there will be an increasing number of difficulties and obstacles in the integration process.

Taking advantage of opportunities, minimising obstacles, or better, turning challenges into opportunities, require strong and harmonious coordination between the Government and business, agencies, organisations. Only then can Việt Nam truly benefit from its integration efforts. — VNS

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