The Gold Long John International Company Ltd, the first company sued for software piracy in Viet Nam, must pay more than VND1 billion (US$45,000) in compensation to Microsoft Viet Nam and Lac Viet Company, under a settlement agreed to by all parties.
The announcement was made by the Software Alliance, the leading global advocate for the software industry whose membership includes Microsoft and Lac Viet.
Last year, the two companies filed a lawsuit against Gold Long John in the southern province of Dong Nai for using unlicensed software in its business operations.
In addition to payment of damages of 100 per cent of the value of the copyright infringement, the company must agree to all demands made by the copyright owners, according to the settlement agreement.
This includes making a public apology, which the Gold Long John company has done.
The settlement agreement came two months after the court accepted the case.
The Gold Long John company has also publicly admitted to have been in breach of Vietnamese intellectual property law through the use of pirated and unlicensed software.
Gold Long John Dong Nai International produces footwear materials for major brandnames.
The company, based in Nhon Trach 2 Industrial Park in Dong Nai Province, employs 200 people. In June last year, it was found using unlicensed software from Lac Viet and Microsoft on 69 computers.
Tougher sanctions The Software Alliance said it welcomed the court’s findings, recommendations and settlement.
In a press release, the alliance said that its members were committed to undertaking more civil actions in the coming weeks, thus sending a signal to companies using unlicensed software that they could face possible legal action.
Vu Ngoc Hoan, the acting director of the Viet Nam Copyright Office, said: “Alongside creating further awareness of the intellectual property laws, we also need enforcement to underline the seriousness of the offence.
“From the perspective of a government agency, our position is to encourage copyright owners to turn to the civil court if they think their products have been abused and claim any losses caused by wrongdoing. This is a legal procedure that should be undertaken and publicised to create a deterrent effect.”
Commenting on the court’s decision, Vu Xuan Thanh, chief inspector of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said: “I encourage affected parties to resort to legal proceedings as I believe in exploring all remedies provided by our court system.
“In addition to administrative sanctions, which still provides redress for copyright violations, copyright owners should also file civil cases to help compensate for financial losses suffered through piracy.”
Thanh also believes that the capacity of the courts should be improved, which would help reduce complexity and further hassles.
He said that if the courts were to handle all intellectual property offences, more judges with in-depth knowledge and skills would be needed to build up confidence in the court system.
Speaking of the plan for this year, Thanh said that software copyright enforcement would be a vital part of the inspectorate’s focus this year.
“We will step up inspections, spot checks and penalties for software piracy. We will rely on the software copyright owners’ piracy reports to expedite our enforcement efforts in 2014,” he said. – VNS