Vietnam, Japan Enhance Anti-Counterfeiting and IP Protection

9:23:49 AM | 3/21/2024

Recognizing the challenge posed by combating violations, the market management forces acknowledge that it is an intricate, long-term endeavor. It needs concerted efforts across all levels, sectors and functional units, with active engagement from society at large. The market management forces have diligently proposed constructive solutions through coordinated mechanisms involving state management agencies, organizations and businesses.

Delegates at recent workshop “Protection of Intellectual Property Rights between Vietnam and Japan”

This perspective was articulated by Mr. Nguyen Thanh Binh, Deputy Director General of the Vietnam Doctorate of Market Surveillance, Ministry of Industry and Trade, during the recent workshop ‘Protection of Intellectual Property Rights between Vietnam and Japan’ in Hanoi. The event was jointly organized by the Vietnam Doctorate of Market Surveillance, the Japan Patent Office (JPO), and the Japan Trade Promotion Organization (JETRO).

Violations of counterfeit goods and infringement of intellectual property rights increasingly sophisticated

During the conference, Deputy Ambassador of Japan to Vietnam, Shige Watanabe, assessed the prevailing issue of counterfeit goods in Vietnam, recognizing its detrimental impact on the establishment of a healthy market. Deputy Ambassador Shige Watanabe expressed hope that enhancing the capacity to address Japanese intellectual property infringements within Vietnam would provide substantial support to over 200 businesses and more than 90 organizations operating in the Vietnamese market.

Conversely, Deputy Ambassador Shiga Watanabe underscored the pivotal role of cooperative mechanisms in soliciting input from relevant stakeholders and fostering initiatives to prevent global intellectual property infringements. This collaborative approach aligns with the expectations of the Japan Patent Office (JPO), the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), and businesses alike, as they seek effective and legitimate solutions to advance intellectual property and industrial property rights.

Mr. Nguyen Thanh Binh emphasized that Vietnam’s economic development has led to deeper integration with regional and international partners. Simultaneously, the prevalence of counterfeit goods, intellectual property violations, and products of uncertain origin has escalated, assuming increasingly sophisticated forms. These challenges significantly impact the legal rights of honest businesses, necessitating concerted efforts to address this pressing societal issue.

In 2023, the market management force inspected and scrutinized over 71,000 cases, effectively detecting and addressing more than 52,000 violations. These efforts resulted in the collection of over VND500 billion for the state budget. Notably, during the period from 2021 to 2023, the market management forces diligently handled numerous cases related to the infringement of Japanese intellectual property within Vietnam; 123 cases involving the infringement of cosmetic products, with fines exceeding VND959 million; 31 cases related to the infringement of functional food, resulting in fines totaling VND226 million; 100 cases concerning food hygiene and safety, with fines amounting to VND707 million.

In the realm of household electrical appliances - a popular commodity in the Vietnamese market - the market management forces identified and addressed 95 cases, imposing fines exceeding VND1.6 billion. Similarly, within the fashion industry, 93 cases were handled, resulting in fines surpassing VND1.3 billion. Notably, the most prevalent cases pertained to motorbike spare parts, with 611 instances addressed and fines totaling over VND4.2 billion.

A representative from the Vietnam Doctorate of Market Surveillance emphasized that violations related to counterfeit goods, infringement of intellectual property rights, and goods of uncertain origin persistently occur. These transgressions are executed with increasing professionalism, sophistication, and ever-evolving tactics. This pervasive issue significantly impacts the legitimate rights and interests of consumers and rights holders who seek protection within Vietnam.

Solutions to protect Japanese products in the Vietnamese market

Proposing solutions to enhance the efficiency of combating counterfeit goods and intellectual property rights violations concerning Japanese products, Mr. Nguyen Duc Le, Deputy Director of the Department of Operations at the Vietnam Doctorate of Market Surveillance recognized this as a pivotal and consistent task, that they recently implemented a synchronized array of measures. These encompass targeted propaganda efforts, capacity enhancement initiatives, strengthened coordination mechanisms, and rigorous market inspection and control.

In line with this commitment, the Vietnam Doctorate of Market Surveillance recently issued and prioritized the implementation of Decision 888/QD-TCQLTT - a comprehensive plan aimed at combating counterfeit goods, addressing unknown origin issues, and curbing intellectual property rights infringements from 2021 to 2025. Additionally, it is actively preparing to execute Decision 319/QD-TTg, approved by the Prime Minister, which outlines a project focused on anti-counterfeiting measures and consumer protection in e-commerce until 2025.

The overarching goal of Decision 888/QD-TCQLTT plan for the period 2021-2025 is to eliminate the public display of counterfeit goods, products infringing intellectual property rights, and goods of unknown origin nationwide; put an end to the open production and trading of counterfeit goods and products infringing intellectual property rights within craft villages across the country; ensure that owners of e-commerce platforms and social networks commit to preventing the public sale of counterfeit goods or products infringing intellectual property rights and goods of uncertain origin on their platforms.

The Project on Anti-Counterfeiting and Consumer Protection in E-commerce, slated for completion by 2025, sets forth specific objectives aimed at enhancing the regulatory framework governing inspection and the handling of administrative violations. The project seeks to perfect policies and laws related to inspection procedures, administrative violations, quality standards, measurement, and product branding within the e-commerce domain. A critical facet involves infrastructure development and technological enhancements. This includes the establishment of a comprehensive database system dedicated to anti-counterfeiting efforts and consumer protection. Ensuring the proficiency of enforcement officials and civil servants is paramount. The project aims to achieve 100% training coverage, equipping them with in-depth knowledge of e-commerce intricacies and the requisite expertise to effectively execute their assigned tasks. Major e-commerce platforms will be required to sign binding commitments, pledging not to facilitate the sale of counterfeit goods. Simultaneously, organizations and individual entrepreneurs operating on these platforms will be empowered to disseminate legal provisions.

Vietnam recognizes the urgency of addressing counterfeit goods, intellectual property infringements, and products of uncertain origin. By fostering collaboration, refining legal frameworks, and promoting awareness, the project endeavors to safeguard the rights and interests of consumers and legitimate businesses alike.

Mr. Nguyen Duc Le advocated for Japanese businesses operating in the Vietnamese market to enhance their coordination efforts. He emphasized the importance of providing relevant information and appointing legal representatives to assist the Vietnam Doctorate of Market Surveillance in inspecting and addressing violations. In 2024, the Vietnam Doctorate of Market Surveillance and the Japan Patent Office (JPO) must collaborate to organize contact seminars between rights holders and representatives of Japanese trademarks in Vietnam. These interactions will lay the groundwork for future cooperation.

Simultaneously, both sides are committed to actively strengthening coordination through various initiatives: organizing seminars, exchanges, and knowledge-sharing sessions, which is expected to facilitate discussions on combating counterfeit goods and intellectual property infringements. A concerted effort will be made to provide specialized training to enforcement officials. This training will focus on preventing and combating counterfeit goods, addressing intellectual property violations, and effectively managing and supervising e-commerce activities.

During the recent workshop, representatives from six prominent Japanese brands - ASICS, Kikkoman, Kubota, Kokuyo, Daiichi Sankyo Healthcare, and Panasonic - shared insights into their brand formation, product development processes, and the current landscape of intellectual property rights violations. These brands eagerly anticipate collaboration with competent forces in Vietnam to proactively address issues related to counterfeit Japanese products within the Vietnamese market.

By Le Hien, Vietnam Business Forum