Microsoft Vietnam and Lac Viet Company on December 18 announced that they had filed a lawsuit against a Taiwanese company, Gold Long John Dong Nai International, for software piracy.

This is the first time that a company in Vietnam has sued another company for using illegal computer software.

At a press conference held in Ho Chi Minh City on December 18, representatives of Microsoft Vietnam and Lac Viet Company said the Gold Long John company had been using a large amount of software valued at about 1 billion VND (45,000 USD).

Inspectors from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Ministry of Public Security in June found the unlicensed software from Lac Viet and Microsoft on 69 computers. The software was being used for business purposes.

A representative from Gold Long John signed the inspection report, which said the company had infringed intellectual property laws.

Ha Than, general manager of Lac Viet, told Viet Nam News: "The complaints have been sent to the People's Court of the southern province of Dong Nai where Gold Long John is located."

Than said that his company and Microsoft had done "all the necessary steps, such as negotiating" but there had been "no effective co-operation".

"We will follow the court case to the end and there will be no withdrawal," he said. "As a Vietnamese software company badly hurt by the illegal use of our products, we hope that our legitimate interests will be protected by the law."

Vu Xuan Thanh, chief inspector of the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism, said even though there had been previous lawsuits on copyright issues, this was the first case that dealt with illegal use of software.

Lawsuits are the most effective method against piracy, he said, adding that companies should use the courts to fight piracy.

Battling the issue through administrative channels was not sufficient, and lawsuits were a better solution, he said.

Tarun Sawney, senior director of Software Alliance's Anti-piracy in Asia-Pacific, said: "This is an effective way to help mitigate software piracy. With this first court trial in Vietnam, we hope that the tribunal, along with the authorities' implementation of the Penal Code in the near future, will add an effective channel to help achieve our set target of reducing the piracy rate in Vietnam to 70 percent by 2018."

Gold Long John Dong Nai International produces footwear materials for major brand names.The company, based in Nhon Trach 2 Industrial Park in Dong Nai Province, employs 200 people.

A representative of Gold Long John Dong Nai told Viet Nam News that it had already paid a fine. "We have not heard anything about the lawsuit and are still waiting for an official announcement from authorities," the representative said.-VNA