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|More market surveillance checks were carried out in 2020 compared to previous years|
Police in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau last week announced that it had completed an investigation into copyright infringement involving Saigon Vietnam Beer Group JSC. Le Dinh Trung, a former employee of Saigon Beer-Alcohol-Beverage Corporation (SABECO), can now be prosecuted for industrial property rights violations after producing goods and selling them to market without obtaining the certificate of registration for trademark protection by the competent authority.
The issue was first raised in June last year when it was found that over 4,700 cases of beer, nearly 117,000 cans (330 ml types) and over 3,000 beer cartons showing signs of infringement of SABECO’s trademarked products. The value of the products was estimated to be more than VND1.4 billion ($61,000). According to calculations, for each barrel of beer brought to the market, the company was earning profit of about VND29,000 ($1.25).
During investigation, local authorities have also found thousands of Bia Saigon Vietnam boxes in the southern localities of Binh Phuoc, Soc Trang, and Can Tho as well as the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak. The beer is distributed by Saigon Vietnam Beer Group, which is not a subsidiary of SABECO. Le Dinh Trung, its CEO, held several positions at SABECO in previous years, including assistant to the deputy CEO and head of its legal department.
Legal experts say letting smuggled, counterfeit, fake goods, or poor quality goods move around in the system not only causes loss of revenue for the state budget, but also deteriorates the investment environment and damages the country’s global reputation.
With tightened regulations and campaigns, related authorities have begun to track down many more violations. Previously in 2019, thousands of fake motor parts imitating the two leading motorcycle manufacturers of Honda and Yamaha were found by market management authorities of the northern province of Lang Son. And last year, Hanoi police launched legal proceedings against two people for allegedly selling fake monosodium glutamate (MSG).
According to the Vietnam Directorate of Market Surveillance, in 2020 its plan to combat counterfeit goods and infringing intellectual property goods obtained better results than previous years. The number of checks reached over 2,868, with 2,833 violations, and the amount of administrative fines topped nearly VND24 billion ($1.1 million). The value of confiscated goods was said to be over VND26 billion ($1.18 million).
General director of the directorate, Tran Huu Linh, said last week at its summary report for 2020 that after reorganising the system of vertical management agencies, for the first time his authority carried out a comprehensive campaign in fighting against smuggling and counterfeit goods. The results created a great resonance as well as brought good lessons in the effective fight against both smuggling and commercial fraud.
Linh added that although the fight against counterfeiting and poor quality products has been drastically implemented, there are still many shortcomings. In particular, the prominent causes are due to problems of resources and enforcement mechanisms as well as coordination among related agencies.