Although Vietnam’s intellectual property right registration abroad has recently seen positive changes, the number of registration applications handed to the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam (NOIP) each year remains too small, reported the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Vietnam Economic News.

Before 2013, each year only some enterprises were allowed to have intellectual property registration abroad. However, in 2013 there were 115 international registration applications, including 12 patent registrations abroad and 103 trademark registrations.

Compared to recent years, this was a big change in the number of intellectual property registrations and reflected the growing awareness of Vietnamese people and enterprises on intellectual property in face of the increasing violation cases of intellectual property rights.

However, this number of applications remained too modest if compared to 76,000 applications of different kinds to establish their rights at the NOIP in 2013 including more than 400 patent registrations and 24,656 trademark registrations.

Nguyen Van Bay, Director of the NOIP's Centre for Research and Training, said in many cases, the data may not reflect core issues of the situation as the above data may not be complete. There are two ways for the businesses to have their intellectual property rights registered abroad. They can hand in applications to each country or to the National Office of Intellectual Property, which then examines the applications and submit to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

According to NOIP Director Ta Quang Minh, the businesses have not paid attention to intellectual property right registration abroad because they have not or have not been able to work out export strategies to these markets. Meanwhile, if they want to build and develop trademarks, the intellectual property right registration must come along with other activities such as advertising, introducing products and setting up distribution channels.

The intellectual property right registration abroad in fact is not an easy job, very costly and waste of time for the Vietnamese businesses, mostly small- and medium-sized ones and the scientists’ salaries remain low. For example, to apply for grant of patents in the US, it will cost thousands of US dollars and take about one year to be examined. If granted, then businesses will have to pay an additional amount of money annually for protection (about 1,000 USD a year) within 20 years.

It is necessary to have intellectual property rights registered but it is more important to exploit those protected intellectual property rights. For example, Vietnam registered trademarks for the coffee tree but still exports mainly in the form of raw materials. Therefore, after importing Vietnamese coffee, foreign producers then process the products and use their names and trademarks. If this continues, Vietnam will never have coffee products of their own trademarks in the world market.

Director Bay said to save costs and avoid risks when submitting registration applications abroad, the businesses should submit them to the Madrid system managed by WIPO, which will bring trademark protection to users in 79 countries by an only registration application.

It is said that the costs for trademark protection if handing applications to the NOIP are only about 300 USD, including costs handed to state agencies and hiring lawyers. It will be much cheaper if compared to handing a single application to each country. By this way, the registration application will be reviewed by the NOIP before submitting to WIPO, helping reduce many possible risks.-VNA