Companies that use intellectual property protection may face a few problems in the initial period of implementation, but in the long-term it would improve competitiveness in both local and international markets.

The advice came from a ministry official who was speaking at a seminar held in Ho Chi Minh City on May 28.

Nguyen Quan, Minister of Science and Technology, said that IP rights were a "power tool" for socio-economic growth that many companies had used in an effective way.

Companies employing IP protection effectively have been able to create prestigious trademarks, which have added to their market share and revenue, he said.

As a member of the World Trade Organisation, in recent years, Vietnam has issued a number of laws, ordinances, decrees and directives to establish a legal framework and measures on IP rights.

The minister said that protection of IP rights has enabled the country to deeply integrate into the world economy.

Vietnam is negotiating a series of Free Trade Agreements that have higher requirements for IP protection, especially the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

"Accepting higher requirements on IP protection will create challenges for enterprises when they have to pay higher expenses for IP rights-related activities, while local consumers must pay higher prices for IP-protected products," he said.

Pham Phi Anh, deputy head of the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam, agreed.

"Applying for trademark registration and design registration could be expensive, and with limited financial capacity, local firms, mostly small- and medium-sized ones, do not always have the money to protect their IP rights beyond their borders," he said.

However, these are only short-term negative impacts. Effective IP protection, in the long-term, would create a healthy business environment for both local and foreign enterprises in the domestic market, limiting production of fake and imitation goods as well as actions violating IP rights in the market, he added.

Delegates at the seminar said enterprises have become more aware of IP rights protection and made efforts to protect it, but many others have not paid much attention to it.

Representatives of many enterprises, including Viet Tien Garment Company and Thang Loi Company, said they have encountered difficulties to protect their IP rights because of other producers copying their designs and trademarks. They asked for better support from government agencies.

Minister Quan said the ministry was working with other ministries and agencies on a series of measures to help firms protect their IP rights more effectively.

The seminar was organised by the Business Association of High-Quality Vietnamese Goods, the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam and Tia Sang magazine.-VNA