Washington , DC IIPI hosted a delegation of Vietnamese policymakers today as part of its ongoing efforts with this burgeoning Asian nation to build the legal infrastructure necessary to more effectively enforce intellectual property rights. The meeting was the first appointment of a week-long study tour for the delegates in Washington and New York City . The visitors were invited to the US under the auspices of the Department of State’s International Visitor Program, coordinated by Meridian International Center.

Today’s visit to IIPI included a presentation by Alex Koff, an IIPI consultant and attorney with Paul, Hastings Janofsky and Walker, LLP. “With such a critical lack of legitimate, licensed products available in Vietnam ,” said Koff, “totally enforcing IP rights would mean a complete absence of any product. The key is to develop a licensing structure for legitimate products. We want to work with the Vietnamese and Western rights owners to set up distribution channels for their products. This is a big business opportunity and it is a fundamental part of growing Vietnam ’s economy.”

“Today’s meeting was an excellent opportunity for IIPI to continue to expand its relationship with Vietnam ,” said Bruce Lehman, President of IIPI. “Following our workshops in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi this past October, we are eager to assist the Vietnamese in building the institutions necessary for flourishing knowledge-based industries. The Vietnamese government recognizes the urgency to meet international intellectual property rights standards. Their ambitions to foster economic development, attract foreign capital, and accede to the [World Trade Organization] WTO depend heavily on their ability to comply with the [U.S-Vietnam Bi-lateral Trade Agreement] BTA signed last year.”

Trang Thuy TRUONG, Bruce Lehman, Phong Tan HUYNH, and Binh Thanh PHAM at IIPI’s office
Delegates at today’s event included Mr. Phong Tan HUYNH, Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department for Market Management; Mr. Binh Thanh PHAM, Director of Customs Supervision and Control, Department of Customs; Ms. Trang Thuy TRUONG, Director of the Industrial Property Management Division at the Ho Chi Min City Department of Science, Technology, and Environment, and Mr. Anh Ngoc VU, a published Vietnamese attorney and Director of the Institute for Customs Research, Department of Taxation.

Visiting Vietnamese officials hold responsibility for various aspects of the protection of intellectual property rights in their nation. Their discussions with US experts will include the following:

* The development and application of transparency, accountability, and anti-corruption measures to ensure fair and non-discriminatory IPR enforcement, especially in customs regulations and procedures;
* The process of writing and enacting IPR law, especially focusing on anti-smuggling, anti-counterfeiting, and anti-piracy procedures;
* Economic costs incurred from not protecting IPR with a focus on trademark violations; and
* Coordination between and among enforcement agencies that manage IPR issues at various levels of government.

Sharing his excitement and eagerness to learn, Mr. PHAM said, “Through the BTA we have a solid foundation about intellectual property rights. Our challenge is in how to effectively carry out the agreement. We are working to protect IP rights, to prevent counterfeiting. But we don’t always have all of the expertise we need, so this is a good opportunity for us to learn.”