A draft decree proposing stiffer administrative punishment for intellectual property right violations is to be submitted to the government for evaluation.
The Ministry of Science and Technology (MST), which is compiling the decree, has judged the current pecuniary penalties stipulated in Decree 12 (1999) are relatively light and neither prevent nor deter IPR violations. The ministry is therefore proposing harsher penalties for infringements.
For example, under the current law, a fine of between 500,000 dong and two million dong may be imposed on any organisation or individual giving false information regarding rights ownership of any IPR item. The new draft stipulates such infringements may be fined one to three million dong.
The compilers have proposed imposition of penalties based on the value of the IPR property in question. For example, a fine of between five million dong and 15 million dong is proposed for any organisation or individual producing faked goods valued at less than 20 million dong, while a stiffer penalty between 15 million dong and under 30 million dong will be applied for counterfeit property worth 20 million dong to 50 million dong.
Furthermore, depending on the manner and extent of the violation, the organisation or individuals involved may be subject to temporary or permanent revocation of their business license; or confiscation of evidence and or equipment used in the counterfeiting or copycat production process.
Intellectual property experts agree with the science and technology ministry that Decree 12 needs adjustment, but argued that provisions for harsher penalties should be reconsidered.
Le Dang Tho, vice president and CEO of Invenco Trademark and Patent Agency said that the penalty schedule is very complicated, as too many instances are defined. Penalties for production and circulation of faked goods should follow one set principle. An across the board minimum fine of three to five times the value of the faked goods should be applied, Tho said. “Only serious fines will enforce the rules clearly,” said Tho.
One official, who asked to be not named, said that he did not see any substantial change in the existing IPR infringement penalties and fines should be adjusted to reflect increases in individual wealth since 1999 when the decree was first promulgated. Thus, the new penalties are no more severe than previously and would not deter IPR infringements, said the official.
Under the draft, upon receiving an accusation and supportive evidence of intellectual property rights violation, the state administrative body has five working days to slap a cease and desist order on the organisation or individual involved.
Tho claims that five days is too long, as the damage to the brand involved increases on a daily basis.
“It must be cut back to only one or two days,” Tho said.