11.28.09 – Browsing across the internet, I came across this image of toilet paper branded with the Google name in Vietnam. I have yet to confirm its validity with Google’s headquarters, but it’s either Google has really diversified its business in Vietnam or we are looking at fake.
All joking aside, the image is a stark reminder that intelectual property is not well protected in most parts of Asia. In fact, the Business Software Alliance reports that 92% of software in Vietnam is pirated. Even blatant copy right infringements of brand and logo are hard to defend against. Most lawyers will tell you how hard it is to sue someone across international borders, especially in Asia. With Vietnam accession to the World Trade Organization in 2007, there is hopes that intelectual property rights will be reasonably protected. Part of the WTO package calls for a reasonable time table to implement intelectual property law.
Intellectual property protection is not simply just an issue of fairness, it is critical to the development of Vietnam’s economy. IP rights give companies incentive to innovate, uphold quality, and establish a brand. Until these protections are enforced, we will not see a Vietnamese brand make it to the global stage.