For World Intellectual Property Day on April 26, Tran Viet Thanh, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, spoke to Kinh te Viet Nam&The gioi (Viet Nam and World Economic Affairs).
What are your assess-ments on the role of intellectual property rights in Viet Nam?
Intellectual property has become an effective tool for economic development in Viet Nam. In the past, it was considered a special privilege for developed countries. Since 1986 when Viet Nam started its renewal process, and particularly after the country joined the World Trade Organisation in 2007, many enterprises have shown interest in and started to apply intellectual property to their businesses. Since then, it has become an important tool in our national economic development.
However, the use of intellectual property rights is not on par with its potential. As a result, its contribution to the country's socio-economic development remains low. In addition, intellectual property has not yet contributed to promoting the competitiveness of our goods inside and outside the country. There are various factors contributing to the problem, but the key is that many of our enterprises are small and medium enterprises, so they don't pay much attention to research and development (R&D).
Can you give some examples about intellectual property infringements in Viet Nam?
Viet Nam has recorded notable achievements in applying intellectual property in the course of national economic development. Organisations and enterprises' awareness about intellectual property rights has improved. For example, the National Office for Intellectual Property of Viet Nam received about 45,000 registration applications last year. Regarding trademarks, the office received 366,798 applications in 2014.
However, I have to concede that the effectiveness of intellectual property rights in Viet Nam remains low and infringements are rather common.
According to an ongoing report, 1,100 violation cases relating to industrial property rights were fined VND 15.5 billion ($718,000) last year, and up to 97.8 per cent of the cases were regarding trademarks.
Many people say that our sanctions on intellectual property violations are not strong enough. What's your position on this?
I disagree. In reality, the sanctions levied on violations are applied at the highest levels in accordance with our law.
Under the 2005 Law on Intellectual Property, the highest penalty for a violation must not be over five times the value of the goods. However, in reality, the implementation of the 2005 Law faced many challenges. In the amendments to the 2009 Law on Intellectual Property, the National Assembly had to apply administrative fines on all intellectual infringement cases.
Another factor I should mention is the shortage of law enforcement officers who are trained in intellectual property.
What challenges does Viet Nam face enforcing intellectual property rights?
Intellectual property rights have become a main part of Viet Nam's international economic integration. There is no other choice for Viet Nam but to implement global intellectual property law. Intellectual property has played important role in international economic activities, particularly in the signing and commitments to free trade agreements.
During the course of international integration, Viet Nam has faced many challenges, particularly in completing a legal framework relating to intellectual property and human resources development.
Last but not least, we need to educate the general public and enterprises about intellectual property rights. — VNS