Intellectual Property Promotion Strengthening National Competitiveness

9:52:23 AM | 1/19/2022

Intellectual property (IP) is very important to enterprises in modern production and deep integration today. Their production and business activities more or less relate to IP, but many do not fully understand or care about this issue.

IP importance

In the current context of globalization, IP is increasingly important to businesses because it helps create added value, profit and brand reputation. In recent years, the Government of Vietnam has paid great attention to building and perfecting institutions and policies on IP in line with international commitments, and encouraged enterprises to register for IP rights, domestically and internationally.

According to Decision 1068/QD-TTg on the Intellectual Property Strategy to 2030, Vietnam aims to be a leading ASEAN country in IP innovation, protection and utilization by 2030. In addition, new intellectual property of Vietnamese individuals and organizations have increased in both number and quality, helping raise Vietnam's IP index in the Global Innovation Index (GII). The number of patent applications for protection has risen by an average of 16 - 18% a year; industrial design registration applications by 6-8%; trademark registration applications by 8-10%; and plant variety protection applications by 12-14% (10-12% of applications were filed for protection abroad), making Vietnam a plant variety protection center with the establishment of the ASEAN+ Plant Varieties Protection Agency.

According to statistics, Vietnam's IP protection ranking has improved since 2012, climbing to No. 45 in the world for the time being.

Notably, Vietnam is among developing economies with access to the highest standards of free trade in the world. It has entered most new-generation free trade agreements (FTAs) which include commitments to intellectual property rights (IPR) protection. Basically, Vietnam's IP commitments are consistent with current EU legislation. Its IP commitments in the EVFTA include copyrights, patents and inventions in relation to pharmaceuticals and geographical indications.

Vietnam’s signing and enforcement of new FTAs with high and strict IP commitments will create opportunities and challenges for Vietnamese enterprises in different industries. As for businesses and rights holders, IP commitments in FTAs ​​are assessed not only to increase economic benefits and enhance creativity, but also help reduce costs and strengthen confidence in IP registration for protection since all commitments raise the level of IP protection.

However, according to the Europe - America Market Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, enterprises’ awareness of the importance of trademark registration and brand development in general is still limited. They may find that they do not need to register or do not have enough information and knowledge to carry out trademark registration for their products. Furthermore, they do not find it urgent to have their product trademarks registered for protection. They do not submit registration applications because they think this is expensive. This is one of the reasons why some Vietnamese companies lost their brands in foreign markets.

In fact, many famous Vietnamese trademarks have been lost to foreign companies which registered such brands for protection in foreign nations. Notable cases include Trung Nguyen Coffee, Buon Ma Thuot Coffee, Ben Tre Coconut Candy, Phu Quoc Fish Sauce, Vifon and ST25 Rice. When Vietnamese companies took measures to claim back, they confronted numerous difficulties and, in many cases, they lost.

Meanwhile, in Vietnam, in the last 10 years, Japan, China, South Korea, the United States and some European countries filed most IP protection applications. Meanwhile, the number of patent applications/utility solutions submitted by Vietnamese applicants did not account for a majority rate.

Necessary change from mind to action

In fact, while multinational corporations around the world have invested a lot of resources for registration of exclusive IP protection, not many companies in Vietnam understand the importance of this matter right now. Besides, startups only focus on business formation and investment attraction rather than IP protection registration, or are afraid to register for many reasons.

Therefore, according to experts, it is most important for enterprises to change both mind and action on this.

Data from the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam (NOIP) shows that 80% of startups do not understand the importance of IP and very few startups file for IP protection and know how to manage brands. Therefore, they often encounter difficulties when facing disputes and lawsuits. For that reason, it is very important to inform and raise awareness of the role of IP and its interconnectivity with innovations.

Enterprises should have their own patents and exclusive certifications recognized by international laws. There is no other way; they must do this on their own.

To avoid losing their brands and trademarks, companies must actively review and register IP protection in foreign markets early, according to experts. They need to pay attention to protecting their trademarks (brands), designs, inventions or utility solutions. They need to learn carefully where and how to register to save time and costs while obtaining the best result.

Beside efforts made by enterprises, Vietnam needs to quickly complete regulatory policies in line with international commitments, and execute capacity building policies for IP enforcement to better support them to fulfil their IP commitments in new FTAs.

Currently, Vietnam is amending and supplementing the Law on Intellectual Property to foster IP as a resource for production and business development, and significantly improve the level of IP protection and enforcement in proportion to international commitments joined by Vietnam such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Vietnam - EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).

By Quynh Chi, Vietnam Business Forum