The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Hi-Tech Crime Control Police Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security are conducting surprise inspections for intellectual property rights compliance, with a focus on software use at four major wholly foreign-invested Taiwanese companies.
HCM CITY —
|Customers at an international software exhibition in Ha Noi. Inspections on intellectual property rights compliance, with a focus on software, are being conducted at four major wholly foreign-invested Taiwanese companies. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Tu |
The raids are part of a renewed strong-arm effort by the Government following series of public awareness campaigns over the last few years targeting agencies and companies delivered in co-operation with such international organisations as the Business Software Alliance (BSA) and domestic and international software publishers.
The latest inspections followed a workshop held in March by the BSA and the Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce in HCM City to promote awareness of and compliance with intellectual property rights. All four of the Taiwanese companies which were targeted are large-scale enterprises with 200 to 7,000 employees, one based in southern Binh Duong Province and the other three in HCM City. They are involved in footwear and garment production, plastics, motorbikes and automobile parts.
A mission representative said that, of 221 computers inspected in the four companies, a large number had unlicensed software, including popular Microsoft office programmes and operating systems; Lac Viet software, including their dictionary programme; and professional design applications like AutoCAD, SolidWorks and Adobe Photoshop. The total value of the infringed software found in the raids was estimated at over VND4 billion (around US$200,000).
"Many foreign companies have a thorough understanding of intellectual property rights and would sue someone immediately if their products were illegally copied, but they will deliberately try to evade buying computer software licences and will do so only if they get caught by us," said the deputy inspector of the Ministry of Culture, Sports, Tourism, Pham Xuan Phuc.
"We recommend that companies, organisations and the general public to use licensed and legitimate computer software," Phuc said. "If you ignore this, sooner or later, we will find out and hold you accountable before the law."
The Law on Intellectual Property and Government Decree No 47/2009/ND-CP set fines for violation of copyright and related interests, as well as subject violators to civil lawsuits from software publishers.
In a recent workshop, Dr Vu Manh Chu, head of the Viet Nam Copyright Office, Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism, said enterprises which export to international markets face additional risks from using unlicensed software.
"Local companies producing goods for export to some countries without using licensed software may find themselves at risk of losing the privilege of exporting to such countries," Chu warned.
"We are working with international and local software publishers to counsel businesses on how to use software in the most effective and useful way," he said. "In addition to incentivising and praising exemplary companies in complying with software ownership laws by granting them certificates of recognition, we also have a relatively long-term plan in place."
With recent proceedings by the US against a company in HCM City, greater efforts to address violations by exporters to the US market are needed.
An economist said that the era of ‘freebie' software in Viet Nam may be about over and that businesses needed to take the issue seriously before it was too late.
In an increasingly intertwined global economy, intellectual property rights were protected by the Vietnamese Government in accordance with its international commitments, and Vietnamese companies looking to enter the international playing field needed to realise that respect for software licences was mandatory. —VNS