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New Policy: Vietnam releases amendments of regulations on intellectural property measures

May 02, 2020 | 14:47

Circular No. 13/2020/TT-BTC is designed to overcome shortcomings in protecting intellectual property rights at the border during implementation, concurrently amending and supplementing regulations to facilitate the right holder or the lawfully authorized person and the inspection, supervision, and control units. New regulations, the competence of the customs office to handle counterfeit goods and goods infringing intellectual property rights is also specified. 

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Hoang Thi Thuy, Deputy Manager of Vietnam Department of Customs Supervision and Management told Custom News about points to be managed when implementing the new circular.

vietnam releases amendments of regulations on intellectural property measures
Ms. Hoang Thi Thuy (Photo: Custom News)

Outstanding issues amended and supplemented in Circular 13/2020/TT-BTC

Circular No. 13/2020/TT-BTC is designed to overcome shortcomings in protecting intellectual property rights at the border during implementation, and at the same time amending and supplementing regulations to facilitate the right holder or the lawfully authorized person and the inspection, supervision, and control units such as: simplifying records and documents; transparency of administrative procedures in accordance with the provisions of the Customs Law, the Law on Intellectual Property and the Law amending and supplementing a number of articles of the Intellectual Property Law and relevant legal documents, in accordance with national commitments. This is especially relevant to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

For example, in the past, did local customs reflect difficulties in the process of enforcement of intellectual property rights protection, like issues of inspection, supervision, and control during customs procedures? The issue of temporary suspension of customs procedures is carried out effectively. What is the duration of temporary suspension of extension? How many times are customs offices allowed to extend? In addition, there should be specific provisions for cases where trademarks request customs inspection and supervision but are in the process of disputes or complaints about IP rights holders or their legally authorized persons, protection capabilities, or IP protection scope.

The above issues are amended, supplemented, and clarified in Circular 13/2020/TT-BTC. Remarkably, there are many new regulations relating to customs inspection, supervision, and control enforcement; relating to procedures for requesting temporary suspension of customs procedures; customs inspection and supervision of goods for which the measure of inspection and supervision has been applied; dealing with fake goods or goods showing signs of counterfeiting; handling of goods showing signs of IPR infringement; revise and supplement a number of contents related to the customs control work to suit the current regulations and assigned functions and tasks of this force, according to Custom News.

Tasks performed by Customs authorities during the temporary suspension of customs procedures and regulations are noted

The tasks Customs offices perform during the temporary suspension of customs procedures are prescribed in Clause 8, Article 1 of Circular No. 13/2020/TT-BTC. This Clause adds the responsibilities of the Customs office in dealing with goods that have infringed IP rights or not. In case sufficient grounds determine that the goods are temporarily suspended from infringing upon intellectual property rights, the customs offices shall issue decisions to handle administrative violations, within 30 days from the date of issuance of such decisions. The customs offices must have written notice prescribed in Clause 12, Article 2 of the Law amending and supplementing a number of articles of the Law on Insurance Business, the Law on Intellectual Property to the IP right holder or a legally authorized person with the following information: Name and address of the shipper; exporters, consignees or importers; description of goods; quantity of goods; and country of origin of goods if known.

The content of the notification of information to the IP right holder or the lawfully authorized person is specified in Clause 12, Article 2 of the Law amending and supplementing a number of articles of the Law on Insurance Business. Intellectual Property Law, internal laws and regulations related to intellectual property rights in the CPTPP.

What should be noted in implementation?

The units should only implement procedures of temporary suspension of customs procedures in case there is a clear basis that suspected goods have signs of infringement of IP rights, goods falsifying and suspending procedures according to regulations; failure to carry out suspension procedures when there are insufficient grounds to suspect goods showing signs of infringement of IP rights, counterfeit goods or carrying out arbitrary suspension procedures for all IP rights that have been accepted for customs inspection and supervision. Do not require the IP right holder or legal authorized person to submit or produce any documents other than the customs dossier as prescribed, the application for customs inspection and supervision approved by the General Department of Customs to receive and notify the focal points to receive information to protect IP rights at the unit.

If the goods are temporarily suspended from infringement upon intellectual property rights, the order and procedures for handling goods shall be handled strictly according to the provisions of law. Cases of temporary suspension of customs procedures in contravention of law, persons issuing decisions on suspension must take responsibility before the law.

vietnam releases amendments of regulations on intellectural property measures
Customs is the leading force in protecting IP at the border. In the photo: Officials of MongCai Border Gate Customs Department (Quang Ninh) inspect import and export goods. (Photo: Custom News)

The handling of import and export goods infringing intellectual property rights and counterfeit goods

The handling of counterfeit goods, or goods showing signs of counterfeiting or goods showing signs of IPR infringement is prescribed in Clauses 10 and 11, Article 1 of Circular No. 13/2020/TT-BTC.

Accordingly, the new contents include: Specifying the competence of the customs office to apply preventive measures in accordance with the Law on Handling of Administrative Violations; stipulating the procedures and order of handling by the customs offices to identify fake goods, which require the owner of the genuine goods to provide documents proving and coordinating with relevant units in identifying fake goods.

Regarding the handling of goods sowing signs of IPR infringement, Circular 13/2020/TT-BTC has many new regulations, specifically: When identifying goods with signs of IPR infringement, Sub-Department of Customs agency must send notice of information related to the goods showing signs of infringement to the IP rights holder or the lawfully authorized person according to form No. 06-TBTD/SHTT/2020, and at the same time, enclose pictures of goods showing signs of IPR infringement. Information sent by the method: Certified mail and SMS/email delivery service to have a basis for determining when the rights holder receives the notice.

The time limit for receiving a request for suspension or continuation of customs procedures is three working days after the rights holder receives a notice from the customs office. Customs procedures for shipments, customs officers continue customs clearance for the shipment in accordance with the provisions.

In order to implement the new contents in Circular 13/2020/TT-BTC effectively, the General Department of Customs has issued a written request to the provincial/municipal Customs Departments to disseminate and thoroughly grasp the whole contents of the Circular to public officials; at the same time, note that the units new content is amended and supplemented so that the units can take initiative and advantages when implementing.

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