Saturday, June 18, 2016

Domain name cases and cybersquatting in Vietnam

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On 8 June 2016, the Ministry of Information and Communication (MoIC) and Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) jointly held a meeting to sign a new circular on handing domain name infringements. For some time domain name infringements have been impossible to handle effectively due to uncertain ministerial responsibilities for enforcement of decisions. See here for more detail. 

However this new joint circular surprised everyone. It only covers (i) domain names identical or similar to others' IP along with content on associated websites which infringe others' IP; (ii) domain names used for publishing content infringing IP laws. This is inconsistent with a previous 2015 Circular which covered bare cybersquatting (registering domain names similar without actually using the names or merely intending to resell the names or to prevent the IP holders from securing the names).  

This is disappointing. The most typical problem has not been addressed. To enable administrative action, IP holders must prove infringement on the associated websites. The MoIC has in effect sent a message: cybersquatting disputes must be resolved in court, not through the administrative route. This is in fact consistent with what the Law on Information Technology says but there is still arguably a conflict between the Law on Intellectual Property and the Law on Information Technology. Only serious content infringements will be resolved by the administrative authorities, less serious cybersquatting must go to the civil courts.

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