Vietnam Steps Up Fight Against Counterfeit Goods
Related Practice Area
Managing Intellectual Property
April 4, 2017
Vietnamese authorities have stepped up their efforts to enforce IP rights in recent years, particularly in 2016, and especially in the area of combating counterfeit goods.
According to the government’s official statistics, all agencies are increasing their activities in IP protection. The Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) Inspectorate, which typically handles the most complex cases in anti-counterfeiting and IP infringement, handled only about 70 cases in 2012, but last year handled nearly 300. Four years ago, the police only handled about 65 cases, but last year handled about 225. The Market Surveillance Department (MSD) under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT), which is still the core enforcement agency in anti-counterfeiting, tackled 2,282 cases of anti-counterfeiting and IP infringements in 2015. This number leapt to 4,874 cases in 2016. Customs also appears to have visibly strengthened their inspections and border control against counterfeits.
The sanctioning decisions are also becoming tougher. In addition to a move toward higher fines, such as several cases in which the maximum level of nearly USD 24,000 of fines was imposed, 2016 saw the authorities impose harsher sanctions, including a trend toward suspending the business licenses of infringers for up to three months. This sanction was issued at least 25 times in 2016. Notably, there seems to be a trend away from “slap on the wrist” types of fines that were common several years ago, with most fines now being two to three times higher, in the range of USD 500 to USD 1,000.