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The new US’ Unfair Competition Act is designed to eliminate any cost advantages gained by companies using unlicenced software in business operations. The law puts the onus on US importers to ensure their overseas vendors are using legal software and IT.
“This is a great law for those companies who have been doing the right thing all along,” said Geoffrey Hawkes, chairman of Rochdale Spears Limited with three plants in Vietnam, more than 2,000 employees, and 150 containers a month bound for overseas clients.
“Over the years, we have spent a lot of money on genuine software because as an international company we wanted to ensure we were internationally compliant in all aspects of our business,” said the British-backed firm chief.
Rochdale Spears is joining a growing band of companies across Asia that are benefiting from the Unfair Competition Act.
For years these companies have invested in use of fully licenced software often adding up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, other companies found ways to use pirated software without detection, and, in turn are able to compete at lower prices.
But now, the tables are turning to favour companies with legal software and IT. America’s biggest importers will soon require overseas vendors to certify the legality of their software and IT.
“We have a great business, but we are also in favour of any law that levels the playing field,” said Hawkes.
Hawkes took the reins of Rochdale Spears in 2006 and quickly established a policy to use only genuine software. The company conducts an annual IT audit to ensure that all 250 of its PCs are using only licenced software.
“As a business, we owe it to our customers and to our people to do the right thing and ensure that we continue to make the world’s best furniture without interruption or problems,” said Hawkes.
Rochdale Spears Limited is a Vietnam-based wholly British owned enterprise operating in hi-end handicraft, fine arts and wooden household utensil manufacture.
The company set up shop in Vietnam in the early 1990s and initially engaged in manufacturing medium-high to high-end accent and occasional furniture in a 50,000 square foot plant in Ho Chi Minh City with 100 employees. At the time, the plant primarily served the European design and interior decorator trade.
In late 2001, its business model began to shift. At that time, Vietnam gained increased access to the U.S. market with the ratification of a trade agreement between the two countries. The agreement lowered U.S. tariffs on Vietnam shipments from 40 to 3 per cent.
With its eye on the US market, the agreement spurred Rochdale Spears to invest $4.5 million in a new plant in the Binh Duong province whose completion was completed in mid-2003.