Since the Law on Intellectual Property was enacted in 2005, border controlling measures on intellectual property have always been considered an effective measure to deal with goods exporting and importing activities infringing upon intellectual property rights, which aims to enforce the protection and ensure the effectiveness of intellectual property rights protecting activities according to international commitments that Vietnam has acceded to WTO.
After 15 years since the Intellectual Property Law 2005 was passed, Vietnam has continued to join and sign many new-generation international trade agreements which are as meaningful and important as international trade agreements when acceding the WTO. European-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) are two of these important agreements, which are considered to bring many opportunities and challenges for Vietnam’s economy.
The Covid-19 pandemic broke out in early 2020, starting in China, spread all over the world and is still raging, causing more than 12 million infection cases and more than 530000 deaths. The global economy is suffering extremely bad effects while predictions of a full-blown crisis and recession will happen, economic growth forecasts are bleak because of the negative growth of countries. The main markets of Vietnam’s exporting goods such as the EU and the United States are also seriously affected.
Previously, China were once an important link in the global supply chain and considered the world’s factory; however, US-China trade war and Covid 19 created major disturbances for the global supply chain. Countries have realized that dependence on one supplier puts the economy as well as national security and safety in the context of pandemic at risk of endangered seriously. The situation of scrambling to buy essential equipment ( such as masks, protective gear, and ventilators) to prevent pandemic happened and it was all very chaotic.
As a corollary, manufacturers began looking for new production sites in countries outside of China to limit dependence on this supplier. India and Southeast Asian countries are the potential destinations.
In this context, Vietnam is still considered a bright spot when the Asian Development Bank positively forecasts stableness of the economic satisfactorily and forcasts the growth of Vietnam’s GDP to about 4.1% this year. This prediction is based on many positive economic data of Vietnam in the first half of 2020 and especially the achievement of anti- Covid 19 pandemic, which is considered to be the most successful in the world today. This makes Vietnam one of the most ideal and safe destinations for investors today and in fact, many manufacturers have decided to relocate their factories to Vietnam.
In terms of intellectual property management, the movement of the above supply chain not only has created many opportunities but also many challenges for Vietnam.
Characterized by an emerging consumer economy and favoring products of reputable big brands, Vietnam’s import activities are very exciting since Vietnam joined the WTO as well as simplification and convenience of customs procedures. For a long time, border control activities on Vietnam’s intellectual property mainly focused on preventing and limiting activities of importing products infringing intellectual property rights into Vietnam.
Recently, an interesting case involving the famous brand – Birkin of Hermes was forged by former employees and sold to customers in Asia and especially there was a permanent resident in Vietnam. This puts a lot of assumptions around this person’s role and it is likely that this object is a clue to import these products into Vietnam. Most recently, a contraband warehouse larger than 10,000m2 with a series of famous brands in Lao Cai which operated through the form of online sales via Facebook livestream was also destroyed.
However, with more and more large manufacturers setting up manufacturing plants in Vietnam, Vietnamese consumers have been able to access quality and reputable products that are produced domestically. It is likely that in the coming time, border control activities on intellectual property will shift to focus on control of export goods instead of import as before with new tricks and new methods more and more sophisticated.
To ensure the compatibility of the provisions of Vietnamese law with the provisions in EVFTA, CPTPP and in accordance with the actual context, The Ministry of Finance has issued Circular No. 13/2020 / TT-BTC to amend and supplement a number of articles in the regulation of Circular No. 13/2015 / TT-BTC on inspection, supervision and temporary suspension of customs procedures for exports and imports required to protect intellectual property rights; controlling counterfeit goods and goods infringing intellectual property rights. This Circular takes effect from April 20, 2020.
The important amendment of Circular 13 is related to the procedure for filing an online goods control application through the Customs electronic data system. Circular 13/2020 has allowed the electrical filing procedures for the majority of the procedures not only filing an application of examination request for inspection, supervision on exported and imported products which requires protection of Intellectual property rights but also the procedures for amendment, supplement, extension, dossier of request for temporary suspension of customs procedures, etc. This new regulation reflects the renovation commitment of the Ministry of Finance in general and the General Department of Customs in particular to create favorable conditions for rights holders in the process of protecting their intellectual property rights.
In addition, with the development of e-commerce and especially cross-border e-commerce when users in one country can order products of another country through e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Ebay, Taobao, etc, delivery via courier units makes border control of intellectual property, counterfeit and pirated goods more and more difficult because goods are broken down into small value oders. This may increase the cost of the right holder to implement the procedures requiring border management. To solve this issue, Government also drafted a decree on customs management for imported and exported products traded via E-commerce and this decree will be soon issued this year
It can be said that, over 15 years since the promulgation of 2005 Intellectual Property Law, actual measures and activities in general and border management activities in particular have significantly contributed to the protection of Intellectual Property in Vietnam. This action has created faith for foreign investors and domestic manufacturers.
In the following period, there will be more difficulties in controlling border of intellectual property for exported, imported products yet, in the spirit of building a “Government of service” Vietnam will continue to apply more synchronized measures and solutions in order to improve the protection of Intellectual property rights, create a solid foundation for investors, assist and support investors to overcome such difficulties, become a reliable, safe, and prosperous destination for investors in the future.