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Intellectual Property: Opening Way for Successful Start-up

The business start-up wave is rolling in many countries, including Vietnam. Start-ups are creative enough to generate new products and services with unique features and functionalities for the market. Creativity and uniqueness are the foundation to establish intellectual property rights of start-ups. Vietnam Business Forum has an interview with Lawyer Le Xuan Thao, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Lawyers Association and General Director of T&T Invenmark Company. Thu Huyen reports.

When a new company is established, it will immediately face many competitors because they sell the same products but use different customer approach methods. It may thus incur a loss in business. Is there any doubt that intellectual property is vital to all companies now? 

Together with commodity production development, intellectual property plays a very important role in the survival and development of a business entity and functions as a symbol of commercial prestige when it develops the market. Therefore, establishing the rights and protection of intellectual property not only helps it fight against fraudulent behaviours of other actors, but also helps create huge value as most of its profits comes from the value of reputation – the reputation of products and services more than tangible values. In the 1970s, the value of tangible properties accounted for over 70 per cent of corporate value and the value of intellectual property made up less than 30 per cent. Currently, the value of intellectual property has increased significantly to make up for over 70 per cent of corporate asset value, and even over 90 per cent such as Microsoft, Disney and Apple.

However, many start-up leaders make light of protection of intangible properties. They think that start-ups face a lot of difficulties in fulfilling administrative procedures and spend too much to operate their businesses, such as on marketing strategy, governance strategy, human resources system, business networking and human resources. These works place mounting pressures on start-up companies in addition to “invisible costs”. For this reason, establishing intellectual property rights and registering them for protection are deemed unnecessary at first. Moreover, start-up leaders usually care more about expertise, business and strategies rather than other intellectual property.

However, it seems that intellectual property disputes are growing? 
Vietnamese business start-ups often lack resources to pursue disputes relating to intellectual property rights if they are uncertain about the evidence of their ownerships.
But, because they do not register for protection of their intellectual property rights, their creativity is easily copied, stolen or defamed by others when their products and services are available on the market. These make start-ups unsustainable and vulnerable to bankruptcy, when they know how to create them but do not know how to protect them.

Therefore, intellectual property right disputes are constantly intensified, not only by start-ups, but also by long-standing companies because of importance and profitability obtained from intellectual property. Therefore, in addition to long-term visions for business model, companies must have effective measures to protect intellectual property throughout their development process.

How can a start-up company protect intellectual property rights to avoid business risks and intellectual property disputes? 
Every start-up business must be aware of the importance of intellectual property to its business development and know the scope of its intellectual property rights. It must raise its knowledge of intellectual property and transmit its understanding to all employees. It must be aware of the value of intellectual property, immediately decide intellectual property for protection registration, particularly inventions, know-how, logos, brands, icons, designs or patents, in order to establish ownership rights, prevent others from registering before it or intentionally compromising them in the future. By doing so, it can develop sustainably.

A company must be fully active with intellectual property rights or hire industrial property agents to register for establishment and protection of intellectual property rights. When violations are found, a start-up business must know how to protect its rights under the law (Article 198 of the Law on Intellectual Property). Then, it can ask competent authorities to handle violations with administrative, civil and criminal measures. In reality, when disputes arise, the matter is usually complicated and it may not have enough time to follow the suits, but hire professional expert agents to handle the case to ensure higher practicality and effect.

Many companies have spent decades pursuing a lawsuit, then have to accept failure or suffer enormous losses of reputation, prestige, sales and time because they did not register their intellectual property rights when they start a business. They even have their intellectual property stolen by others unknowingly.

Where is the best place for a start-up company to register for intellectual property to attract funds and successfully start a business? 
The registration and establishment of intellectual property rights are performed at the National Office for Intellectual Property of Vietnam (NOIP) under the Ministry of Science and Technology, applicable to such items as patent, industrial design and trademark, or at the Copyright Office of Vietnam (COV) under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, applicable to such items as copyright and related rights, or at the Department of Crop Production (DCP) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, applicable to such items as plant variety rights.

Rights holders can examine rights status at the above-mentioned authorities with different administrative procedures for each item. However, a rights holder can authorise a representative unit to advise and act on its behalf to deal with legal procedures, supplement and change applications to establish industrial property rights or will coordinate with functional units to handle disputes, intellectual property infringement in the country and in the world. 

T&T INVENMARK International IP Company Ltd is one of the big & respected intellectual property law firm in Vietnam, specializing in providing services for intellectual property including: counseling, registration of inventions, copyright & related rights, trademarks & geographical indications, licensing, franchising & technology transfer, representing organizations and individuals in the handling of infringements of intellectual property rights Property in Vietnam and abroad.

By Duong Nguyen - Legal & Enforcement Dept 

Vietnam Business Forum

Posted: Wednesday, January 18, 2017 



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