Trademark protection in Vietnam
Trademark protection in Vietnam is initially obtained through trademark registration. Trademark opposition could be filed to prevent a pending application for a mark from being granted application. Litigation is the final measure to handle dispute during trademark protection in Vietnam.
Trademark is a sign that help distinguish the goods or services of one enterprise from those of others. Together with industrial design and patent, trademark of goods and services plays an extremely important role for the growth of the enterprise. Trademark establishes a link between enterprise and customer. A strong trademark will attract customers to use goods or services. When trademark is popular and economic benefits achieved through sale of goods or provision of services coupled with trademark is large, the violation of trademark is inevitable.
The annual reports of the Vietnam National Office of Intellectual Property (NOIP) prove that trademark violation in Vietnam is the most popular, among other industrial property rights. According to the preliminary annual report in 2011, and 2012, there has been more than 1,000 cases of trademark violations each year. Report of 2013 and after shows more than 2,000 trademark infringements were handled with the total fines of trademark violators of around USD 1 million per year. Having said that, it is important for trademark owner to register trademarks in Vietnam for better protection. This is also suggested for even well-known trademarks.
For registration, trademark owner has two options: either directly register trademark in Vietnam by filling an application for registration with the Vietnam NOIP, or seek the protection in Vietnam through Madrid’s system. For the first option, the trademark owner needs to prepare, file for registration, and pay fee as the requirement of Vietnam Intellectual Property law. In case trademark needs to be protected in a number of nations, including Vietnam, trademark owner may register trademark through Madrid’s system.
Where the violation of trademark occurs, trademark owner needs to judge the level of infringement, level of damage to choose suitable resolutions. Initially, the trademark owner may protect by requiring to the trademark violator to terminate the infringing acts, apologize, and rectify. In case of being damaged, trademark owners have rights to claim compensation. If failing to reach result, trademark owner may use settlement mechanism through negotiation or mediation or could request the competent state agencies to handle acts of infringement through i.e. filling a denunciation application and submitting to the Vietnam NOIP. Litigation might be required to handle acts of infringement. Generally, the proceeding of civil litigation is more complex than the arbitration proceeding. In cases the trademark owner needs a decision from court in order to end trademark infringement, civil litigation is top priority. In the remaining cases, arbitration is a better choice with advantages of cheaper cost, shorter settling time, and more flexible.