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(Vietnam Business Forum) – Intellectual property has still been the weak point of many Vietnam businesses, including large enterprises.

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According T&T INVENMARK Vietnam International Intellectual Property Co. Ltd, which represents Sumatra Tobacco Trading Company (STTC), the case of recent dispute between VINATABA and STTC is no longer their own matter, but a matter of many domestic enterprises, those that still expect protectionism, monopolies when facing with an overwhelming foreign goods leadsing to unfair competition, even violation of intellectual property rights.

According to the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam, only about 95,000 trademarks of enterprises are registered for protection and only 20% of them are from Vietnamese enterprises. Thus, IPR enforcement remains the most worrying factor for the wave of investment, foreign goods into Vietnam, and will cause more disputes to occur.

Vinataba and real story as a joke.

Back to the problem between Vinataba and Sumatra Tobacco Trading Company (STTC), to see the protection of industrial property rights is not "joke" and the desire of integrating into the global playing field, Vietnam is required to comply with the international rules.

Jet and Hero are two familiar trademarks on the market. However, these are two items that were smuggled into Vietnam to consume in large quantities which is estimated to account for 80-90% of total millions of cigarettes smuggled into Vietnam every year. With reason to prevent the STTC from taking advantage of legal protection to conceal or abet acts of importing contraband tobacco, VINATABA requested the National Office of Intellectual Property to cancel trademark registration of two products. This firm has also registered Jet, Hero trademarks with the National Office of Intellectual Property and is preparing production of cigarettes bearing the two trademarks. In response, STTC confirmed they are holding trademark rights for the two brands and are not responsible for the smuggling problem.

Vietnam are required to comply with international rules and the enforcement of IP rights is prerequisite.

Regarding the allegations of VINATABA, T&T INVENMARK confirmed, STTC is really being suffered damage. VINATABA’s planned production of Jet and Hero tobaccos in Vietnam without permission of the company STTC is a serious violation of Article 10bis of the Paris Convention for the acts of unfair competition, and Article 213, Law of intellectual property. STTC can sue VINATABA in the international court. This will affect the reputation of Vietnam especially in the period of extensive integration of Vietnam.

Difficult issue but must be dealt with

According to Dr. Le Xuan Thao - Standing Member of Vietnam Lawyers Association, Chairman of the Board of Management, T&T INVENMARK Vietnam International Intellectual Property Co. Ltd, Vietnam is in the process of deeper integration into the world economic community with the signing of the Agreement on the trans-Pacific partnership (TPP), Free trade agreements (FTA) with countries around the world, the TRIPS Agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Due to the importance of IP, so in the 3 chapters of the TPP Agreement, a separate chapter is devoted to intellectual property, including adjusting the areas of patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and other aspects of IPR. Therefore, any business and trade issues should also be resolved satisfactorily among the parties in a fair manner on the basis of the law of Vietnam and international law, especially in the field of intellectual property.
In fact, in recent years, Vietnam has many brands stolen abroad and we have responded fiercely about it. But VINATABA is repeating the acts that legitimate and honest domestic enterprises condemn. And acts of VINATABA are not only contrary to the law of Vietnam, but also go against international treaties to which Vietnam is a member. So why doesn’t Vision & Associates- Vinataba’s intellectual property representative understand such rudimental principle?

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (the then Deputy Prime Minister, Chairman of Steering Committee 389) has requested the Ministry of Science and Technology and other related departments to handle the cases in accordance with international law and commitments . Recent dispatches of the Ministry of Science and Technology have also confirmed, because VINATABA could not prove that Sumatra is “related to the smuggling of cigarettes” and Sumatra do not use Jet and Hero trademarks in Vietnam, the Ministry decides not to accept the proposal of VINATABA".

It can be seen, the decision of the Ministry of Science and Technology has demonstrated a positive step for brand owners doing business in Vietnam - and especially the decision was made in favor a foreign company before a state enterprise. This has created confidence in the transparency and fairness. This also shows Vietnam has become a more stable and friendly place for foreign businesses.

According to Vietnam Economic Forum



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