Government agencies, consumers, manufacturers and the entire community should work together to fight phony or counterfeit products, delegates told a conference in Ho Chi Minh City on November 27.

Infringement of intellectual protection rights is occurring more frequently, affecting licensed companies and consumers, said Do Huu Quang, deputy head of the Market Management Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Vietnamese consumers are presented with an abundance of goods, but it is difficult for them to distinguish between genuine and fake products, he said.

"Fake goods are everywhere and in many sectors, from fashion accessories to agricultural materials and cosmetics, with direct impact on consumers' health, environment, social security and producers," he said, adding that fake goods are made both domestically and abroad and then smuggled into the country.

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

"Many enterprises, when they discover that their designs and trademarks have been copied, do not have the courage to denounce these actions to authorised agencies," Quang said.

Even though more inspections have occurred, as well as increased fines, a lack of resources and personnel have caused the battle against fakes difficult to implement.

In addition, sanctions imposed on these violations have not deterred the practice, he said.

Luong Hoang Hung, deputy general director of the Vietnam Intellectual Property Association, said businesses have a role to play by improving their public communications and helping people identify fake and substandard goods.

Many delegates at the meeting agreed that authorities should publicise the names of violators in the mass media, adding that consumers must protect themselves by purchasing goods at prestigious shops and websites.

Nguyen Thanh Tai, director of NewTech Company, said enterprises need strategies to protect their trademarks from counterfeit goods and should co-operate with government agencies in enforcement procedures.

Nguyen Thanh Binh, head of the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City, said all enterprises, both large and small, should focus more on IP protection.

But Binh noted that, with current technology, a new product can be quickly analysed and copied. However, this makes owning IP rights even more important.

Companies employing IP protection effectively have been able to create prestigious trademarks. This has also helped them improve competitiveness in both local and international markets, and increase revenue, he said.

The conference was organised to mark the Day for Fighting Fake Goods on November 29.-VNA