On March 23, 2020, the National Steering Committee Against Smuggling, Trade Fraud, and Counterfeit Goods (“National Steering Committee 389”) issued Decision No. 195/QD-BCD 389 promulgating regulations on receiving and handling information from organizations and individuals (e.g., tips or leads) on smuggling, trade fraud, and counterfeit goods. Decision 195, which took effect immediately upon issuance, prescribes how Steering Committees at national, ministry, and provincial levels are to receive and handle such information; proper ways to send information to the Steering Committees; and responsibilities of the Steering Committees in cooperating with authorities to verify information, transferring the same to enforcement authorities, and following up with them on the handling and results of matters.
National Steering Committee 389 was established under the Prime Minister’s Decision No. 389/QD-TTg on March 19, 2014, and plays an important role in developing strategies and plans and coordinating enforcement actions against acts of smuggling, trade fraud, and counterfeiting, including IP infringements, which have a negative effect on national revenue and the production of enterprises. In addition to National Steering Committee 389, all provinces and cities directly under the central government and some related ministries, are required to establish Steering Committees at provincial and ministry levels, correspondingly, to carry out the same tasks within each province/city or the field in charge.
Briefly, Decision 195 states that information on smuggling, trade fraud, counterfeit goods, including goods of inferior quality, and IP infringements must be sent to the Steering Committees via telephone, e-mail, written documents, or through direct meetings. Notably, such information must be in the Vietnamese language and not aim to harm anyone. Otherwise, the submission of information should be rejected. The standing office of each Steering Committee is responsible to initially receive and verify the information, and must keep details of the informants confidential. After verifying, if the information is reliable, the standing office will transfer it to an appropriate enforcement authority for opening an enforcement action.
The standing office is also responsible to follow up with the enforcement authority for handling the case, while the enforcement authority must report the results of the enforcement action to the standing office. Also, the standing office must record all details from receipt of the information until results of the enforcement action are finalized, and send half-year and annual reports to National Steering Committee 389.
Nevertheless, it can be understood that Decision 195 aims only to apply to these Steering Committees but not to replace the ordinary receiving and handling of information, denouncements, and complaints by enforcement authorities. This means an informant can send information, denouncements, or complaints to the enforcement authorities directly, or can send them to the relevant Steering Committee.
As for law firms, for ordinary cases, they can continue to submit complaints directly to enforcement authorities calling upon them to conduct raid actions, which remains more effective and faster. In case of a complex infringement or a case of multi-faceted, complex infringements related to various enforcement authorities and/or such infringements taking place simultaneously in various provinces/cities, a complaint submitted to the Steering Committees to seek their instructions and coordination of enforcement actions can be advisable.
For more information on Decision 195, please contact us at [email protected].