There should be more co-operation between intellectual property authorities who supervise trademark enforcement and other government authorities, such as the Business Registration Office that supervises the establishment of new companies. This would help address acts of trademark infringement in company names more effectively.
|The Raemian project developed by Samsung C&T in South Korea |
This was one of the suggestions made by lawyers on the prevention of trademark infringements in Vietnam, with many calling on local authorities to take such violations more seriously.
Trademark is a sign that helps distinguish the goods and services of one individual or enterprise from those of others. Together with other intellectual properties, such as industrial designs and patents, the trademark of goods and services plays an extremely important role in the growth of many businesses. Trademark establishes a link between the enterprise and customers. A strong trademark will attract customers to use the goods or services it is attached to. However, when a trademark becomes popular and the economic benefits achieved through the sale of goods or provision of services bearing that trademark become large, infringement of that trademark becomes a growing issue.
In a recent case, Samsung C&T Corporation has accused a housing developer based in Ho Chi Minh City of stealing the name of its South Korean luxury apartment brand and thereby damaging the reputation and value of Samsung as a whole.
The company confirmed that Housing Development and Trading JSC (HDTC) claimed Samsung C&T was one of its design consulting partners on its websites related to apartments built and marketed by the developer.
Samsung C&T stated that it has never been involved in the construction or marketing of the apartments in question and that the aforementioned claim is categorically false.
Besides, Samsung C&T claimed that without authorisation, HDTC has used Raemian, the name of Samsung C&T’s own housing brand, for two apartment projects in Ho Chi Minh City (Reamian City in District 2 and Raemian Dong Thuan in District 12), as well as formed three subsidiary companies (Raemian Co., Ltd., Raemian Investment Co., Ltd., and Raemian Consultancy-Design Co., Ltd.) and registered four corresponding online domain names (raemian.vn, raemiancity.vn, raemian.com.vn, and raemiancity.com.vn).
Under the Law on Intellectual Property, Law on Competition, Law on Consumer Protection, Law on Advertisement, Decree No.99/2013/ND-CP, Decree No.158/2013/ND-CP, Decree No.185/ND-CP, and Decree No.71/2014/ND-CP, and other relevant laws of Vietnam, HDTC may be subject to administrative sanctions.
For instance, a company that is found to have committed an infringement of rights to trademarks of another could be fined from VND1 million up to VND400 million ($45-17,400) (Article 2 and Article 11 of Decree No.99/2013/ND-CP). A company that is found to have committed an act of unfair competition could be fined from VND1 million up to VND500 million ($45-21,750) (Article 2 and Article 14 of Decree No.99/2013/ND-CP). The infringer may also be subject to remedial measures such as forcible change of enterprise name or removal of infringing elements from the enterprise name and remittance of illicit earnings from the commission of administrative violations.
It is said that Samsung C&T has recently issued a cease-and-desist letter to HDTC to request for their voluntary removal of all infringing elements and other corrective actions.
According to Samsung C&T, Raemian is a highly-respected and trusted brand that has ranked first in the apartment category of the Korea Productivity Centre’s National Customer Satisfaction Index for 22 consecutive years.