Foreign investors protect intellectual property rights   |  

HA NOI — To combat the alarming increase in intellectual property (IP) violations, major multinational companies have set up the Viet Nam Anti-Counterfeiting and Intellectual Property Protection Association of Foreign Invested Enterprises (VACIP) on Tuesday.

Last year alone, over 400 cases of violations were heard by Vietnamese courts.

Big brands such as Unilever and GlaxoSmithKline, some of the worst hit companies, are among those who established the organisation. The US cosmetics giant Unilever, for example, has complained of a number of its products being duplicated and counterfeited.

According to a representative of a pharmaceutical firm, spurious imitation drugs, produced not only in Viet Nam but also smuggled from Cambodia, Taiwan and other areas, were widely available in the domestic market.

Some of these criminals even reuse empty drug bottles or market drugs made up of insufficient elements making it dangerous for consumers, he said. Some local pharmacies, whose brand drugs imitate big players in the market, are also guilty of violations, he added.

Deputy director of the National Office of Intellectual Property Tran Viet Hung admitted foreign-invested businesses were favourite targets for counterfeiters due to the demand for high-quality products of famous brands.

A majority of the more than 400 IP violation cases heard by the courts last year were related to products of foreign-invested enterprises, he said. Of these 65 per cent related to trademark violations, 25 per cent to industrial designs and 5 per cent to patents, Hung said.

President of Unilever Viet Nam, Michel Pierrer Dallemagne, also the first president of VACIP, said the association would provide forums for members to share relevant information and tie-up with responsible agencies such as market management teams, economic police, customs offices, the intellectual property department and courts, and strengthen initiatives to control counterfeit products and imitations.

The association also plans to join regional and international organisations fighting counterfeiting and IP violations, said the VACIP president. The organisation expects to raise its membership to 30 in the first year of operation from the current 19. — VNS