Intellectual Property

Vietnam has been a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”) since 1976. It is a contracting party to eight WIPO-related treaties or conventions, including the Bern, Brussels and Paris Conventions, the Madrid Agreement and the Patent Cooperation Treaty. The legal and regulatory framework for IPRs was overhauled and greatly improved in preparation for WTO accession. Most importantly, it adopted the first Law on Intellectual Property in 2005 (as revised in 2009) (the “IP Law”). The Law is comprehensive in coverage and raises the legal IP framework to modern standards. The adoption of the IP Law was necessary in order to make Vietnam compliant with the WTO’s TRIPS agreement, to which Vietnam is a party. It was also needed for Vietnam to fulfill its commitments under the bilateral trade agreement with the US. The law provides international standards of protection, as well as the traditional limitations on IPRs:

Copyright and Copyright Related Rights protect literary, artistic and scientific works, including music, motion pictures, photography, books, stage works, computer programs, lectures or textbooks, fine art works and applied art works. Moral rights are protected for an indefinite term, while economic rights for motion pictures, photography, applied art works and anonymous works are protected for 75 years from the first publication, or for the whole life of the author plus 50 years after author’s death for other works. Copyrights and related rights may be assigned or licensed freely, and conducts constituting infringements are clearly defined by law.

Industrial Property Rights cover inventions, industrial designs, layout designs of integrated circuits, marks, trade names, geographical indications and trade secrets. Patents are delivered by the National Office of Intellectual Property (“NOIP”), pending the usual requirements of worldwide novelty, inventiveness, susceptibility to industrial application. Precise definitions of each of these requirements are provided in associated decrees and circulars. Vietnam usually applies the “first to file” principle, but priority can be invoked in a certain number of cases. Invention patents are granted for 20 years, utility solution patents for 10 years, industrial design patents for 5 years (renewable twice), and registered designs for semi-conducting closed circuits are valid for 10 to 15 years. Registered trademarks are valid for 10 years and renewable indefinitely for further 10 year periods.

Plant Varieties may also be registered for protection on the condition that they are new, distinct, uniform, stable and designated by proper denominations. Vietnam became a member of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants at the end of 2006.

The IP Law provides a number of tools for the authorities to deal with infringements and to protect IPRs:

Administrative measures can be applied in four main situations, including acts that cause loss or damage to authors, IPR holders, or consumers, and acts of production, import, transport or trading in counterfeit goods. Administrative measures are the most practical for IPR holders, but they do not provide significant compensation. Sanctions can include a warning, fine, confiscation and destruction of counterfeit goods or suspension of business activity. They can be imposed by inspectorates, market surveillance agencies, customs offices, police offices and People’s Committees.

Civil remedies include compulsory termination of the infringing acts, compensation for damages, compulsory destruction of goods and public apology and rectification. Damages or losses are defined as both material and moral, and the extent of the compensation is determined on the basis of actual losses suffered.

Criminal procedures are regulated under the Criminal Procedure Code. They are applicable to cases involving manufacturing and/or trading of counterfeit goods in significant quantities or values.

Related Chapters

Introduction to Vietnam

Culture and religion in Vietnam

Economy of Vietnam

The Government

Judiciary

Legal System

Regulatory Framework

Banking & Finance

Capital Markets

Land & Housing

Labour Law

Taxes

Selected Sector Regulations

Dispute Resolution



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