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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Vietnam website's US investors sued by IPR owner


A law suit in the US involving Vietnam highlights the international nature of IPR issues. Zing.vn is an online portal which provides news, music, social media services and is also a platform for games, instant messaging and online payments. It has been hugely successful in Vietnam and among overseas Vietnamese. However it has had its share of IP problems. See here for earlier reports of IP problems.

Lang Van a US music company with a large catalogue of Vietnamese music, has filed a lawsuit against Boston based International Data Group, IDG Ventures Vietnam (a subsidiary) and VNG which operates the site Zing.vn. Lang Van alleges that Zing.vn had over 3000 pirated music files on its website.  Zing.vn's business model is to offer content for free to generate traffic and so advertising and other revenues. Lang Van had sought takedowns repeatedly and payment of royalities without results.

The lawsuit was filed in the US and targets IDG as the venture capital fund which invested in Zing.vn. It alleges that “the U.S.-based fund ... directly contributed to the exponential growth of Zing.vn’s website as well as the launch of the Zing Music website, bringing expertise, guidance and financial backing to help VNG grow its business.” As such they should be jointly liable. This is a novel approach to stopping the infringement, meaning VC backers of IT start ups will need to be more careful in future.

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