2023 Special 301 Report

Office of the United States Trade Representative

The Special 301 Report (Report) is the result of an annual review of the state of intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement in U.S. trading partners around the world, which the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) conducts pursuant to Section 182 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (the Trade Act, 19 U.S.C. § 2242). C

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Excerpt: Section on Vietnam

VIETNAM

Vietnam remains on the Watch List in 2023. Vietnam took steps to improve intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement, including amending its Intellectual Property Law in June 2022 and acceding to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) and WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT), collectively known asthe WIPO Internet Treaties, in April 2022 and November 2021 respectively. Right holders also welcomed greater engagement with enforcement authorities and increases in Vietnam Customs’ border enforcement in certain areas. However, IP enforcement continues to be a serious challenge. While Vietnamese authorities initiated a criminal investigation against the operators of Phimmoi.net, the investigation has stalled. There are almost no criminal investigations or prosecutions, even though Vietnam has criminal laws imposing substantial fines and years of incarceration for copyright and trademark infringement. Vietnam continues to rely heavily on administrative enforcement actions, which have consistently failed to deter widespread counterfeiting and piracy. In particular, online
piracy, including the use of illicit streaming devices and associated piracy applications to access unauthorized audiovisual content, remains a significant concern. Moreover, although Vietnam issued a decree to address the online sale of counterfeit goods, the trafficking of pirated and counterfeit goods through e-commerce sites and elsewhere online remains a serious problem. Counterfeit goods remain widely available in physical markets as well. According to right holders,weak IP enforcement in Vietnam is due to poor coordination among ministries and agencies responsible for enforcement, delays in investigations and court proceedings, and the lack of familiarity with IP law among police, prosecutors, and judges. The United States is closely monitoring and engaging with Vietnam on the ongoing implementation of amendments to the 2015 Penal Code with respect to criminal enforcement of IP violations. In addition, right holders have raised concerns about trademark application backlogs. Furthermore, Vietnam’s system for protecting against the unfair commercial use, as well asthe unauthorized disclosure, of undisclosed test or other data generated to obtain marketing approval for pharmaceutical products needs clarification. The United States is also monitoring the implementation of IP provisions pursuant to Vietnam’s commitments under trade agreements with third parties. The European UnionVietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) grandfathered prior users of certain cheese terms from the restrictions in the geographical indications (GIs) provisions of the EVFTA, and it is important that Vietnam ensure market access for prior users of those terms who were in the Vietnamese market before the grandfathering date of January 1, 2017. The United States urges Vietnam to engage on and address these issues and to provide interested stakeholders with meaningful opportunities for input as it proceeds with these reforms. The United States will continue to press on these and other IP issues with Vietnam through the United States-Vietnam Trade and Investment Framework Agreement and other bilateral engagement.

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