Enforcing Intellectual Property rights (IPR) laws is troublesome for every country but particularly so for those countries, like Vietnam, that have no history of property rights protection. In developing countries copyrights are being violated more often rather than less due to the ease of electronic copying and the big demand for cheap software, CDs and DVDs. Investors do find this to be distasteful.
Better enforcement of the Intellectual Property rights law will help Vietnam attract more foreign investors that are now unwilling to enter the current somewhat lawless environment.
Markus Cornaro led a mission of experts from the European Commission on a trip to Vietnam and while here he said that intellectual property right protection is necessary for the future growth of trade and economic development. Those countries that will enforce IPR protection laws will look most attractive to investors, will benefit from increased patent registration and will develop more rapidly than those that refuse to curb copyright infringement.
The EU wants to promote mutual investment and trade with Asian countries and in this effort it has introduced ECAP-II, an EC-ASEAN cooperative program on Intellectual Property rights. The program, funded with 1.5 million euro, was launched in Vietnam in 2004. Initially, there was the need to create laws, organize management, direct enforcement and create a community awareness program to take the concept of Intellectual Property rights protection to the public. In 2006 alone ECAP II engaged in more than 30 activities with Vietnamese organizations to create legislation and bring about enforcement of intellectual property right laws. Mr. Cornaro said, “I am quite impressed with the enthusiastic response from the Vietnam General Department of Customs, the Department of Economic Police and other state organizations in Vietnam during this drive.” He said that the need for intellectual rights protection in light of the agreements that Vietnam made to become a member of the World Trade Organization inspired the European Commission to chose Vietnam as the country in which to carry out this project. Vietnam has fined purveyors of fake and copyrighted goods and this was is what the outside world wants to see.
The deputy head of the Vietnam Intellectual Property Department, Tran Viet Hung, said that Vietnam needs to find internal strength if it is to successfully enforce Intellectual Property rights laws. ESCAP II has helped Vietnam formulate laws, one example being the Intellectual Property Law in 2005. Thanks to the program, more Vietnamese people have been exposed to the idea of what intellectual property is. Indirectly, it’s hoped that the program will reduce copyright violations. There have been more people who have sought information about Intellectual Property right registration and protection. Mr. Cornaro said that Vietnam has taken steps towards observing international intellectual copyright protection laws in 2006. Enforcement of the Intellectual Property Law, an enactment of additional laws and admission into the Madrid Protocol and the UPOV Convention indicate that Vietnam have every intention to protect Intellectual Property rights.
The director of ESCAP II, Niclas G. Morey, said that Vietnam is making an effort to enforce intellectual property laws. The sharp rise in foreign direct investment (FDI) into Vietnam seems to indicate that foreign investors are not overly concerned with Intellectual Property rights protection in Vietnam. Enforcing Intellectual Property rights laws will help Vietnam present a better face to the international community but, more importantly, it’s a prerequisite to science and technology development.