IPR Protection in Vietnam

Vietnam maintains a civil law system, in which laws are passed by the legislature (National Assembly) and implemented by governmental ministries. In preparation for the country’s accession to the WTO, Vietnam passed a comprehensive law on intellectual property in 2005, in addition to joining several international conventions on intellectual property rights. With this legal framework, the country allows for registration or opposition to most forms of intellectual property, including trade marks, patents, designs, geographical indications, and plant varieties through the National Office of Intellectual Property. The National Copyright Office accepts registrations of and oppositions to copyright.

Administrative procedure is generally the most common route for quick enforcement among rights holders. Under these procedures, the relevant authorities can impose a warning or monetary fine, or engage in the seizure or sealing of infringing goods, destruction of infringing goods, suspension of the infringer’s business licence, and rectification of incorrect information that has been given to the public by way of a mass media or direct apology to the rights holder. Various governmental authorities are tasked with administrative action, based on the field, size, and severity of infringement.

Rights holders in Vietnam are additionally provided the option of pursuing civil court action, which can result in preliminary injunctions and/or financial damages. In specific cases relating to counterfeiting, enforcement authorities can bring infringers to court for criminal prosecution. Depending on the severity of the consequences of infringement and on the products being counterfeited, the offence could be subject to imprisonment for between two to 20 years, life-sentence or the death penalty.

Beyond typical administrative or judicial procedures, rights holders may work with Customs authorities to protect intellectual property rights at Vietnam’s borders. Rights holders can file a recordal requesting Customs to detain goods which infringe the rights holders’ IPR. Where the Customs authority detects infringing goods, it will intercept them and may temporarily detain the goods. Depending on the circumstances of the case, Customs can issue a sanction against the infringer, transfer the case to the criminal prosecution authorities or request that the rights holder institute civil proceedings against the infringer