Vietnam is one of the countries making robust progress in protecting computer intellectual property rights, the acting director general of the Copyright Office of Vietnam has said.

The country "had made significant strides in software copyright protection efforts over the years," Vu Ngoc Hoan said in an interview on the occasion of the World Intellectual Property Day which falls on April 26.

He quoted the latest study from the BSA/Software Alliance as an example, saying that Vietnam had risen from a country with one of the highest piracy rates in the world of 92 percent in 2004 to one that had brought it down to 81 percent in 2011.

"Though this is still high compared to the regional average of 60 percent, Vietnam has received recognition from interested international organisations for its efforts," he said.

Dao Anh Tuan, a programme coordinator of BSA Vietnam, said: "The strong legal system and active efforts of enforcing activities in protecting software copyright have currently been remarkable in Vietnam."

He added that the Government had been a leader in obeying software copyright when making recent purchases of software for its agencies.

Tuan also said that the BSA in June would announce a new study on software piracy, adding that he hoped the rates in Vietnam would continue to fall.

Meanwhile, the recent win for Microsoft Vietnam and Lac Viet Company in their lawsuit against a foreign company that was found using illegal software was an important step forward in the fight against software piracy.

After nine years of facing only administrative fines, software piracy cases are now being handled through the courts.

Activities to protect software copyright and other intellectual property rights have helped local companies become more innovative.

Vu Minh Tri, CEO of Microsoft Vietnam, said: "Software piracy is no doubt the main impediment to development. Software thefts deter software developers and hinder business expansion.

"Intellectual property rights help create major momentum for continued investment in research and development for the quick introduction of advanced technologies to create better products to meet the ever-increasing needs of society."

Hoang Van Tan, deputy director of the Intellectual Property Authority of Vietnam under the Ministry of Science and Technology, said that the country could create an incentive to keep up innovative work if copyright protection continued.

This would give more opportunities for creative ideas to be applied to production, and would safeguard the interests of innovators.

"On the contrary, when innovation is not protected and fostered, all creation and development will dissipate," he said.

For that reason, Tan said this year Vietnam would choose the topic "Intellectual Property Spurs Innovation" for an action week to be organised in response to the Intellectual Property Day.

"In every activity from research to production, innovation and creation is needed. Without innovation, there will be no development," he said.-VNA