Enforcing intellectual property rights in EVFTAAugust 8, 2020
As the European Union-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) presents a wealth of business opportunities for both sides, local firms are advised to enquire into intellectual property rights (IPRs) in order to penetrate deep into the demanding European market.
Vu Xuan Truong of the Institute for Brand and Competitiveness Strategy believes that the trade deal will bring about economic benefits to both parties, especially when it comes to intellectual property (IP).
IP in this deal refers to all categories of intellectual property, including copyright and related rights, trademarks, patent rights, industrial designs, geographical indications (GIs), which offer a higher level of protection than the World Trade Organization but in line with Vietnamese law.
As for geographical indications, Vietnam is fully committed to protecting 169 GIs of the EU, and the latter has pledged to protect 39 GIs of Vietnam, mainly relating to agricultural products and foodstuffs.
According to experts, the EVFTA is projected to open up the door for exports, but also pose IP challenges, which will make it difficult for domestic goods to meet stringent requirements implemented by the demanding market and make greater inroads.
Due to this, products with Vietnamese trademark, patent, and industrial designs must be registered for exclusive protection within the EU at high costs, not to mention complex registration procedures.
As a consequence of these high costs and complex procedures, local enterprises remain hesitant to register intellectual property rights protection. Indeed, several organisations, inpiduals, entrepreneurs, and businesses have failed to pay due attention to the IP issue.
Elaborating on the commitments set out in the EVFTA, Nguyen Thi Thu Trang, Director of the Center for WTO and Integration under the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says that the protection of industrial designs will apply to both finished products and components or spare parts.
This will be true for technological protection measures (TPMs) as the EVFTA will help deal with infringements related to production, import, distribution, assembly, rental or storage for commercial purposes, says Trang.
She warns chances brought about by the EVFTA will turn into challenges if businesses remain vague about IP regulations.
Economist Vu Vinh Phu also underscores the importance of IP, especially in the context of Vietnam implementing the EVFTA, noting that relevant ministries, sectors, and businesses should put forward recommendations for the enforcement of IPRs in a more transparent manner. This should be done alongside strengthening inspection to handle violations and protect genuine businesses.
Domestic firms should learn more about IP-related issues, make renovations and make the most of cutting-edge technologies to improve the product quality, insiders note.