Monday, July 22, 2013

Anatomy of a criminal counterfeiting case in Vietnam

Criminal IP cases are rare in Vietnam. Part of the reason is that there is an administrative enforcement system which deals with many types of IP cases. Therefore few cases get what might be considered a deterrent criminal punishment. An exception is products which people consume, where there have been criminal cases in recent years, for example for counterfeit vodka and pharmaceuticals. 

In 2012 Ho Chi Minh City police arrested 3 people for production and distribution of counterfeit Heineken beer.  The Economic Police investigated and raided a target in the Binh Chanh District of the city. They caught 3 people red handed loading 23 cases of fake Heineken into a truck. They were apparently distributing to retailers and other smaller distributors. Following that the police then went to the production location in a house, where they found 336 bottles of fake Heineken beer. Several arrests were made but the ring leader of the business remained at large until he was later caught.

Apparently recycled and collected original bottles and lids were used which were refilled with a mix of genuine Heineken beer and local Saigon brand beer. Based on the premises rental they had been in business for a couple of months and were believed to have sold 1000 cases in total. 

Following the police investigations the case was sent to prosecutors and then tried. The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court in early July sentenced Vo Hoang Giang, 35, the ringleader, to 3years in prison for “producing and selling fake drinks.” He was also fined VND20 million (US$941) for the scam. 3 accomplices got 2 years each for producing the fake Heineken. 3 others got shorter sentences for trading the fake Heineken.


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