Intellectual property rights under EVFTA: Chances and challenges

13:00 | 28/07/2020 EVFTA

(VEN) - The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), which enters into force on August 1, requires greater adherence to intellectual property rights (IPRs) by the signatories.

chances and challenges
Many Vietnamese agricultural products are geographically indicated

According to Vu Xuan Truong of the Research Institute for Brand and Competitiveness Strategy, the EVFTA promises many economic benefits for the European Union (EU) and Vietnam. On intellectual property (IP), it includes higher protection levels for copyrights, inventions, pharmaceuticals and geographical indications than the World Trade Organization (WTO) provides. These levels are basically in accordance with the provisions of Vietnamese law.

Regarding geographical indications, Vietnam undertakes to protect 169 EU geographical indications and the EU will protect 39 geographical indications of Vietnam. The geographical indications of Vietnam mostly apply to agricultural products, food and conditions for some of Vietnam’s prominent agricultural products to access and affirm brands in the EU market.

According to experts, the EVFTA opens up IP opportunities but challenges, too. For example, Vietnamese products with trademarks, patents and exclusive industrial designs must register for exclusive protection in the EU at a high cost and undergo complex registration procedures under strict conditions.

Addressing the issue of EVFTA commitments, Nguyen Thi Thu Trang, Director of the WTO and International Trade Center (WITC) under the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said industrial designs are protected not only in finished products but also in visible components and parts. Technological protection measures (TPMs) of intellectual property rights under the EVFTA are expanded to apply not only in cases of violations in manufacturing, import, distribution, assembly, sale and rental of goods, but also for commercial storage, advertising services, and more. Rights management information (RMI) measures not only protect original information, but also copies and publications.

These opportunities could easily turn into challenges unless enterprises adhere to the agreement’s binding IPR conditions that are more advanced, stricter and more transparent. Economist Vu Vinh Phu said that ministries, branches and businesses should recommend fuller inspection and enforcement of IPRs to protect enterprises.

The EVFTA provides unprecedented opportunities to access EU markets, but to exploit this large market, businesses need to master and meet the regulations on protection, exploitation and enforcement of IPRs and technical barriers to trade (TBT) in the EU. That requires businesses to focus on raising awareness in the field of IP, constantly innovating and improving technological capacity to improve product quality.

According to Vu Xuan Truong from the Research Institute for Brand and Competitiveness Strategy, in order to register trademarks in the EU, businesses should contact industrial property agents of the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam under the Ministry of Science and Technology to get the best registration consultancy assistance.

Nguyen Hanh