According to the National Office of Intellectual Property, the number of patent applications in Vietnam averages 300 a year, and only one fifth of applications are granted patents.
Many inventors say one of the main reasons they are reluctant to file for intellectual property rights is the complexity of administrative procedures, especially those related to writing patent descriptions.
This process is judged as extremely complicated and has forced many inventors to apply over and over again before they could finalise their applications.
Another obstacle is high filing fees, at about VND2-3 million (US$90-135) for a brand and VND20-30 million (US$900-1,350) for a patent.
Moreover, with a long waiting time averaging two to three years, many enterprises would miss their business opportunities and face unfair competition during that time.
Even though their rights are protected under the law, many companies still have to struggle with fake goods so swamping the market that it is nearly impossible for the competent authorities to deal with them.
The heaviest fine is only VND500 million (US$22,500), while profits from making fake goods can amount to billions of Vietnamese dong; for that reason, many accept being fined if they are found violating intellectual property rights.
The capacity of law enforcement agencies in Vietnam remains weak and they are rather confused about what to do in practice.
Many are aware that their rights are being infringed upon, but they do not want to pursue costly and time-consuming litigation.
As a result, even when a case of intellectual property infringement is uncovered, competent agencies lack a basis on which to deal with them, which means such infringement continues to be rampant.
That is the main reason individuals and enterprises are not very keen on protecting their intellectual property rights.
Such a reality requires the competent agencies to create a legal framework in keeping with reality to facilitate applications for intellectual property rights.
A mechanism is needed to support inventors financially and in writing descriptions for their patents, while it is also necessary to amend the law on intellectual property and related legislation to strengthen sanctions against infringement and make it easier for patent-holders to pursue legal action.
Another measure is spreading knowledge on intellectual property so that scientists and inventors can look up information and avoid patents that have already been registered.
Only when these measures are taken can applications for and the protection of intellectual property rights be promoted, and only then will enterprises and scientists be able to protect themselves once the Trans-Pacific Partnership, to which Vietnam is a member, comes into effect.