Cablegate: Vietnam: Local Business Knows Value of Trademarks--

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E. O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: In a seminar on trademark protection in the U.S. and
Vietnam, USG and private speakers introduced the system of
trademark registration and enforcement in the US. Well over a
hundred local businesspeople attended the seminar in Ho Chi Minh
City, which was one of four locations around the country where the
seminar was presented. Based on their level of attention and
rigorous questioning, these businesspeople understand the
importance of trademarks. Acting CG opened the seminar by
reminding the audience of the importance the US places on IPR and
urged Vietnam to adopt some of the US best practices in trademark
registration and enforcement. End Summary

2. On August 13, the USAID-funded Support for Trade Acceleration
Project (STAR) in conjunction with the National Office of
Industrial Property (NOIP) and the Ministry of Trade, sponsored a
seminar on "The Protection of Trademarks in the United States and
Vietnam." The seminar was conducted at the request of the GVN
which wanted to educate Vietnamese business people on how to
register a trademark in the US. U.S. speakers included Ms. Lynne
Beresford, Deputy Commissioner for Trademark Examination Policy,
and Barbara Kolsun, Senior VP and General Counsel for Kate Spade.
Reflecting the importance of the topic, the seminar was opened by
Vice Minister of Trade Le Dan Vinh followed by a keynote speech
from the Deputy Director General of the NOIP. Well over one
hundred local businesspeople attended along with several local
officials involved in IPR issues. Local press covered the event
in some detail and urged readers to check out the USPTO website.

3. Acting CG opened the seminar by stressing the priority the
United States places on IPR. She linked IPR to the future
development of Vietnam's economy by reminding the audience that
Vietnam's trading partners regard IPR as a high priority issue and
one that can influence foreign investment. She acknowledged that
the GVN, with partners like the STAR Project, was working to
improve laws and regulations related to IPR protection. However,
effective enforcement was still a major problem in Vietnam. She
encouraged Vietnamese businesses to register their trademarks in
the U.S. and offered the U.S. system as a model Vietnam should
consider in crafting its system of trademark protection.

NOIP Notes Value of Trademarks
4. Mr. Tran Viet Hung, Deputy Director General of NOIP, urged
Vietnamese companies to recognize the value of trademarks by using
an iconic U.S. company as an example. Mr. Hung told the audience
that the Coca-Cola Company was valued at approximately 60-70
billion dollars. Yet what he called the "real value" of Coca-
Cola's assets was only around 15 billion dollars. Mr. Hung stated
that the difference in these two numbers was the intangible value
of the Coca-Cola Company, built up over the years and in large
part represented by the value of its trademark. He then discussed
the devaluation of legitimate products by counterfeits through
loss of consumer confidence and `erosion of enthusiasm' among law-
abiding companies. Mr. Hung described Vietnam's system of
trademark registration, but detailed mention of enforcement
actions or procedures was noticeably absent. One revelation from
Mr. Hung's speech was that the GVN would begin publicizing
trademark applications prior to issuing a decision in order to
improve transparency and allow for comment from other parties.

5. According to Mr. Hung, many foreign companies have filed for
trademark protection under Vietnamese law. By his count Vietnam
has issued almost 9,000 trademarks to foreign applicants.
Conversely, he claimed that only 164 trademarks for Vietnamese
products have been registered in the United States, with an
estimated 54 additional Vietnamese trademarks registered in
Europe, Asia, and the former Soviet Union. He hoped that more
Vietnamese companies would make the effort to register their
trademarks overseas.

U.S. Speakers Describe the U.S. System
6. Ms. Lynne Beresford, Deputy Commissioner for Trademark
Examination Policy at the United States Patent and Trademark
Office (USPTO), gave an overview of the U.S. legal system as it
pertains to trademarks and provided a step-by-step description of
the application process. She noted that 16-18% of trademark
applications filed in the U.S. originate from foreign entities.
The USPTO representative also led the audience on a tour of and walked through the steps to file an electronic

7. Numerous questions from the audience indicated the level of
interest in registering a trademark in the U.S. Questioners
wanted to know: Was an applicant required to retain legal counsel
or hire an agent in the U.S. prior to filing for a trademark? Can
foreign businesses file on-line? Does the `confusingly similar'
doctrine apply to words in different languages; i.e. could an
applicant register the trademark Home Depot provided they used
Vietnamese words? Could individuals file for trademarks? Several
additional questions requested a clarification of the filing fee
cost structure and clarification of who was considered an attorney
in the U.S.

8. Barbara Kolsun, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for
Kate Spade provided a private industry perspective. Ms. Kolsun
detailed her experiences fighting trademark infringement at Kate
Spade and previously as head of the Calvin Klein anti-
counterfeiting program in North and South America. Much of her
presentation recounted enforcement options and tactics, including
raids against counterfeiters and legal action in civil and
criminal courts. Questions directed to Ms. Kolsun covered the
methods and value of trademark enforcement, namely, how U.S. firms
prosecute trademark infringement occurring abroad and whether the
time and money spent on enforcement was supported by any cost-
benefit analysis.

9. Interestingly, audience members also asked questions about
business responsibilities in the U.S. trademark regime. One asked
if subcontractors working for a trademark holder were responsible
for trademark violations if goods were stolen from their
facilities and sold on the street. Another inquired about the
responsibility of the retailer to verify the legitimacy and origin
of products received from their suppliers. While the seminar was
intended to help Vietnamese companies register their trademark in
the United States, these questions illustrate the ongoing climate
of IPR insecurity in Vietnam.

10. Comment: The high level of attendance and staying power of
the participants indicate that there is a real interest in
trademark issues in the local business community. Unlike many
seminars in which participants start drifting away after lunch,
nearly all of the participants remained for the full day. The
event ran way over time and the hotel eventually ejected the
seminar in order to set up the room for another function. One
hopes that this level of interest and the understanding that
trademark protection is something of value to Vietnam businesses
will eventually translate to better and more rigorous enforcement
in Vietnam. Post will continue to support efforts to raise
awareness of the issue.

© Scoop Media

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