Can you give a brief outline about the situation regarding IP violations in Viet Nam this year and how they have been handled?
According to data from the Ministry of Science and Technology’s inspectors, from 2006 to 2008, they had found more than 19,000 violations, and issued fines totalling VND16 billion (US$890,000), as well as seizing a number of vehicles. In Ha Noi alone, in the first nine months, officials had treated 249 cases involving fraudulent use of trademarks, abuse of industrial design copyright, IP theft and fake appellation of origin, seizing products worth VND4.5 billion ($250,000). Significantly, among the cases in Ha Noi, 90 per cent were uncovered during the distribution process.
The amended IP law has been approved by the National Assembly and will come into effect on January 1, 2010. How will it work to curb violations?
The ratified IP law is stricter in its detail than the previous law of 2005.
It clearly regulates monitoring and will make the implementation of the law more effective.
There were difficulties in implementing the old law. What difference will the ratified law change make?
Currently, agencies from different ministries are responsible for the implementation. According to the current report, five agencies are monitoring the situation and issuing punishments, leading to an overlap in some cases.
To solve the problem, we have Committee No 127 which will work on counterfeit and smuggled goods, and trade fraud. Seven ministries relating to IP had signed the implementation of Action Programme 168, under which they co-operate and divide the treatments of IP violations to prevent overlapping of activities between them from 2006-10.
We are considering a reduction in the number of agencies but only one will be responsible for the implementation of punishment to streamline proceedings. However, it is difficult as IP violations relate to a lot of agencies.
The ratified law has changed the levels of fines. The highest fine will now stand at VND500 million ($27,700) instead of the current highest fine of VND100 million ($5,500).
Before, we calculated the valuation of the fine by multiplying by five the worth of the fake products. Such calculations were difficult to do. In many cases, the violation was very serious but the value of the products so little that only a small fine could be issued.
The new levels of punishment will act as a deterrent and correct the problems with the old law. However, the gap between the lowest and the highest fine is still too great.
We need detailed documents to outline the types of punishment and level of fines to make it easier for officers to implement the regulations. — VNS