On June 16, 2022, the latest amendment of Vietnam’s Intellectual Property Law was finally ratified with the consent of 95.58% of the members of the National Assembly. The amendment has received much attention from not only IP rights holders but also law enforcement authorities, as changes have been made in respect of both IP ownership and enforcement.
Notably, under the amended IP Law, Vietnam will recognize sound marks, which shows the country’s efforts to comply with international treaties and agreements to which it is a party, such as the EVFTA and CPTPP. Although there will be challenges in protecting sound marks, this adoption hopefully will provide IP rights owners with one more useful type of protection for their intellectual assets in the developing era of technology.
Regarding copyright, the criteria for co-authorship have been clarified with more details regarding the number of authors (from two authors and above), the contribution of the authors, the intent of the authors, etc. These criteria are similar to other legal systems such as those of the U.K. or U.S. As the definition of co-author plays an important role in determining the ownership of the work, this change promises a better scenario with fewer disputes concerning the ownership of collaborative works.
Unsurprisingly, the National Assembly agreed to keep administrative sanctions as one of the measures to deal with IP infringement. This is in contrast to one of the previous drafts of the amended law in which administrative sanctions were no longer listed as a way to protect IP rights. This removal had received strong negative feedback from many scholars and legal practitioners, who argued from the practical aspect that the civil litigation process often takes longer and has higher costs than administrative sanctions and, thus, would discourage owners from protecting their rights. Further, IP infringement does not only affect the legal benefit of IP rights owners, but can also have a negative effect on social development and consumer safety. With the National Assembly’s reversal, IP rights owners can be reassured that they retain all the effective protection measures available.
The amended IP Law promises a new era for intellectual property in Vietnam, and will take effect on January 1, 2023, except for the provisions on sound marks, which will take effect on January 14, 2023, and the provisions on test data protection for agrochemicals, which will be delayed until January 14, 2024.