Enforcing the Intellectual Property Act

Nearly VND3 billion worth of pirated software was found at MUTO Vietnam Ltd. during the Government’s nationwide software copyright audit.

As part of a government effort of renewed nationwide inspection following the approval of the Partnership Program on software copyright protection in late August, an array of audits have been initiated across the country. Following two similar raids in Hanoi late last week, on November 25-26, inspectors of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, in cooperation with the High-tech Crime Bureau, a branch of C15, Ministry of Public Security, stormed MUTO Vietnam Co. Ltd., a Dong Nai-based company. A large number of illegal software was found here worth nearly VND3 billion. The drastic moves are the latest examples of the nation's resolve and seriousness in enforcing intellectual property laws and achieving its target of slashing annual software piracy.

The surprise check was launched on November 25 at MUTO Vietnam Co. Ltd., a 100 percent Japanese invested firm located in the Bien Hoa Industrial Park, Dong Nai province, and specializing in production of precision moulds, production and painting of plastic components, with more than 13 years of experience in Vietnam. Ninety-eight computers were scrutinized by the inter-ministerial task force, where copies, installation and utilization of illegal software programs were found, including AutoCAD (2008, 2007, 2006 and 2000 versions), MTD 2002 dictionary, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Professional, Symantec Antivirus, ACD see, Corel Draw 12, among others. By the inspectors' estimates, the total value of the illegal software found at MUTO Vietnam adds up to almost VND3 billion.

On behalf of the company, Mr. Vo Minh Dung, the production director, conceded violation of the law with regards to the computers found with copies, installation and use of software programs without permission of the rightful owners and signed the audit report. The firm also vowed to replenish the unlicensed software.

"We have been counseling the management of companies to make sure that their IT departments apply necessary checking of the software installed in the computer systems in the company to ensure that the software they have purchased and used are fully copyrighted, and also that the necessary documents evidencing ownership of the software and legitimate licenses of the software are available. When the internal software check is done, the companies need to legalize any unlicensed software and contact software suppliers for support if needed,"said Mr. Vu Xuan Thanh.

Conceivably, the issue of copyright in all areas has never been so heated and attracted so much concern of a large host of authorities, associations and the public as of late. One after another renowned businesses are in conflict of the law due to ignorance or deliberate disrespect of the Intellectual Property Act, specifically the laws on copyrights. This can be seen as a sign of new advancement in intellectual property awareness in Vietnam and the end of the rampant "freebie" era.

At the moment, Vietnam has had in place a full-fledged, consistent legal framework in protection of intellectual property rights. Alongside with the Intellectual Property Act that has been in effect for two years now, the newly issued Ordinance 04/2008/UBTVQH12, as an amendment and complement of the Ordinance on civil penalties, effective from August 1, 2008, has laid down a rigorous fine level of up to VND500 million. Especially, now that Vietnam has become a member of the Bern Convention and WTO, serious enforcement of the Intellectual Property Act to create a sound business and competitive environment for all businesses, based on respect for other people's innovations and fruits of labor, is now what the government of Vietnam has in sight./.

 

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