On 1 July, a new Penal Code (Penal Code 2015) entered into force in Vietnam, which introduces important changes in IP-related provisions that strengthen the legal basis and the IPR criminal enforcement system to provide effective protection to IPRs, including GIs.
More specifically, to facilitate prosecution of IPRs infringers, the amended Penal Code has new provisions applying criminal liability and criminal sanctions to legal entities for several crimes, among them:
- the crime of manufacturing and trading in counterfeit goods (Article 192);
- the crime of manufacturing and trading in counterfeit foods, foodstuffs or food additives (Article 193);
- the crime of violating industrial property rights (trademarks and geographical indications) (Article 226).
The penal Code 2015 also clarifies the application of criminal measures regarding piracy and counterfeiting, by deleting the reference to the criterion of “commercial scale” to apply criminal sanctions to acts intentionally infringing the rights deriving from a trademark or a GI. Furthermore, it provides for new, lower thresholds with respect to the crimes of manufacturing and trading in counterfeit and infringing goods. A detailed analysis is available @ http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=9d8c20e5-6128-467c-aa99-3751a75ec49b
Meanwhile, the “Consorzio del formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano”, in its efforts to protect the GI it represents in various markets around the world, had to oppose before the Vietnamese competent office trademarks’ applications containing the names “Reggianto”, “Parmesan” and “Parmigiano Reggiano”. More information @ Press Release. In this respect, it is worth recalling that, in August 2015, the EU and Vietnam concluded a free trade agreement, which provides as well a chapter on GIs protection (http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/press/index.cfm?id=1437). Such an agreement though is not yet into force.