The US government's USTR published a report last week on the TPP, the Trans Pacific Trade Partnership, which the US is negotiating with various Asia Pacific nations, intended to be a closer economic arrangement than APEC. The TPP is contentious because of the high level of IP protection members are required to put in place. However several ASEAN countries have joined, such as Singapore or are negotiating such as Brunei, Vietnam and Malaysia.
Last week's report highlights IP protection in the TPP countries. Whilst developed nations like Singapore have only minor steps to bring their rules up to par, Malaysia and especially Vietnam have a long way to go.
The comments from the USG on Vietnam are:
- enforcement efforts have not kept pace with rising levels of IPR infringement and piracy. Not surprising in the context of Vietnam's economic boom, which inevitably outpaces the legal system, observes IP Komodo.
- administrative enforcement actions and penalties, the most commonly used means of enforcing IPR in Vietnam, have not served as a sufficient deterrent. IP Komodo thinks that the same can be said of China - administrative actions are just not taken as seriously as criminal and civil cases. Yet they are a TRIPS-acceptable system.
- Vietnam is praised for actions to enforce IPR protections on the Internet, including by issuing warning letters and by meeting with Internet service providers (ISPs) in response to rights holders’ requests to address infringing content. It’s such early days in the growth of the internet in Vietnam that IP Komodo expects this to become a future problem area.
- Strengthening of the criminal and administrative penalties is under way, provided the implementing legislation follows, which is a common delay in Vietnam.
IP Komodo worries that Vietnam is not as developed as the other nations and will struggle to quickly deliver an IPR system to the level the TPP requires.