[VN]Intellectual Property Rights Protection for EU SMEs related to Smart City Solutions

With the rapid development of Vietnam’s cities has come a growing urban integration of information systems. This enhances the city’s efficiency as well as the quality of life of its citizens for many crucial metropolitan features such as mobility, healthcare, waste management, energy, or water-access. Online interconnected systems and a reliance on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) features play a key role in these advancements. The province of Binh Duong, for instance, has started cooperating with the Vietnam Post and Telecommunications Group to develop the necessary ICT infrastructure with local government agencies.
The importance of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection in such context then becomes apparent. By combining a growing demand for high-tech solutions to tackle urban challenges with a tech-savvy population, Vietnam’s cities provide plenty of opportunities for European SMEs to expand their businesses. Yet European SMEs dealing with smart solutions should be mindful of possible IPR risks at hand. They often provide highly innovative niche solutions, but for many urban problems, a solution can only be made successful through a combination of interdependent technologies. In effect, European SMEs may need to expose their innovations to third parties on a regular basis, thus increasing the risks of IP infringement if proper measures are not taken in advance, says Valentina Salmoiraghi, IP Business Advisor.
Therefore, having a comprehensive IP strategy in place should be at the forefront of any SMEs approach to smart city solutions in Vietnam. At the same time, this brings yet another question to the forefront: the choice of patents filings vs. trade secrets protection for an innovative technology. Both of these will be outlined in this article given that they provide viable options for different reasons and needs.
Patents: a solid choice
Patents are intangible assets which can boost a business’ competitiveness in the global economy. Once the patent has been granted, the right holder, as patent owner, will get the right to prevent others from making, using, importing or selling their invention without explicit consent. Patents can be obtained for any product or process that provides a new technical solution to urban challenges (as well as new production methods), the composition of a new product or technical improvements. The requirement of novelty versus existing or disclosed technology is crucial to affirm patentability.
In relation to avenues to obtain patents in Vietnam, the distinction between invention patents and utility solution patents should be noted. For a new invention or technology to be deemed patentable under an Invention Patent, it needs to meet three requirements. Firstly, it must be novel – meaning that it has not been publicly disclosed inside or outside Vietnam (including Europe) before the date of filing. Secondly, it must involve an inventive step, meaning that the invention or improvement must not be obvious to professionals in the relevant industry. Finally, it must be industrially applicable: if mass production of the product or repeat application of the inventive process are possible through the patented technology.
Utility solution patents are not required to meet the inventive step, as novelty and industrial applicability will suffice for the patent to be granted. However, this comes with an important difference: while invention patent protection lasts for 20 years from the date of filing, utility solution patents only last for 10 years. In both cases, a patent in Vietnam is not renewable. Utility solution patents are often suitable for smart cities solutions due to the quickest time needed to be obtained and the less inventive steps required.
The most important point to take into consideration is that Vietnam follows a ‘first-to-file system’. This means that the first person to file a particular patent in Vietnam will own the right to it once this patent has been granted, regardless of the author of the invention. Therefore, European SMEs should make IP registration a core component of their IP strategy abroad.
How to keep your Trade Secrets
Once a patent is granted, the invention or technology is protected, while it simultaneously becomes publicly available to access as the period of ‘monopoly’ of the patent is granted in exchange of disclosure. This means that competitors could develop a similar invention by using reverse engineering. Keeping the information as a trade secret would help to avoid this.
Trade secrets are defined under Vietnamese law as any “information obtained from financial or intellectual investment activities, which has not been disclosed and is applicable in business”. This means that any innovation dealing with smart city solutions can be protected as a trade secret if 1) it has not been made available to the general public; 2) it provides its owner with a business and economic advantage; and 3) secrecy remains through necessary measures taken by the owner to protect the confidentiality of the information.
Protecting an invention as a trade secret does not require any registration, but instead requires businesses to take reasonable measures to prevent third parties from accessing it. Therefore, in theory, protection can last indefinitely as long as the secret is kept. Trade secrets should be the preferred option if reverse engineering is extremely difficult and if the company has taken steps to maintain secrecy over confidential information, for instance through physical and contractual measures with employees, consultants, partners and third parties.
When a device’s structure, function or operation reveals the technological foundations of how this device operates, patenting should be the preferred option. However, if the technology has a relatively short life-cycle, or does not meet the requirements for patentability, protecting the invention as trade secret shall be considered.
Do not forget Trade Marks
Trade marks refer to any signs owned by a company through which consumers can identify and differentiate your product and its authenticity. Therefore, protecting trade marks contributes to EU SMEs brand recognition and trust– as well as being an important marketing tool. In order to protect your trade mark in Vietnam, a registration in the country is necessary. Only after an application is approved EU SMEs will become the sole right-owner of the registered trade marks. It is important to take this step as early as when the company is considering to enter the Vietnamese market because the ‘first-to-file’ system applies to trade marks.
Key Take-Away
While smart city solutions offer plenty of opportunities for innovative European SMEs, IPR protection should be a top priority for any sustainable business expansion in Vietnam. Acquiring patents will play an important role in protecting innovations, as they will give the patent owner the explicit right to use, import, sell or otherwise develop this invention once the patent is granted. For SMEs who do not want to publicly disclose valuable information, trade secrets could prove to be a useful and potentially crucial alternative. Also, do not forget that protecting trade marks is also an important step to strengthen the company’s strategy in Vietnam. For more information on IP rights protection in Vietnam, please see the Guides and the Vietnam IP Factsheet of the South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesk available on the website.
South East Asia IPR Helpdesk Team

The South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesk supports small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) from European Union (EU) member states to protect and enforce their Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in or relating to South-East Asian countries, through the provision of free information and services. The Helpdesk provides jargon-free, first-line, confidential advice on intellectual property and related issues, along with training events, materials and online resources. Individual SMEs and SME intermediaries can submit their IPR queries via email (question@southeastasia-iprhelpdesk.eu) and gain access to a panel of experts, in order to receive free and confidential first-line advice within 3 working days.
The South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesk is co-funded by the European Union.
To learn more about the South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesk and any aspect of intellectual property rights in South-East Asia, please visit our online portal at http://www.ipr-hub.eu/.


On November 14, 2017, Vietnamese Minister of the Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung and Luxembourgian Minister for Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Action Romain Schneider signed the Framework Agreement on bilateral co-operation on behalf of the governments of the two countries, focusing on the fields of climate change and sustainable energy.

Vietnam and Luxembourg have been maintaining diplomatic relations since 1973. The first development co-operation was established in 1993. From 1994 to 2015, Luxembourg provided EUR124 million ($146.4 million) to a total of 80 development projects in Vietnam under three General Co-operation Agreements.

At the signing ceremony, Minister Dung applauded the contributions of non-refundable ODA that the Luxembourgian government provided for Vietnam in the last two decades.

“Programmes and projects using non-refundable ODA from Luxembourgian government have promoted efficiency and positively contributed to Vietnam’s socio-economic development,” said Dung.

Project name Capital (Euro) Period
Irrigation Cao Bang—rational water consumption and agriculture 5,500,000 2014-2019
Climate Adapted Local Development and Innovation 8,000,000 2013-2017
Supporting the consolidation of the Vietnamese securities market and improving  training capacities 3,000,000 2014-2018
Technical assistance to the IFAD Tam Nong support project 2,000,000 2014-2017
Bac Kan vocational training and education 2,500,000 2016-2017
BBI scholarships 1,260,000 2016-2019
Some on-going projects

Minister Schneider said that the Luxembourgian government hopes to diversify the relations between the two countries in order to go beyond the traditional donor-recipient relationship and to base the bilateral partnership fully on an approach of exchange and mutual interest in the future.

The new bilateral co-operation agreement will allow for a broader and more diversified co-operation between the two countries. Various projects can be implemented through this co-operation agreement that allows for more variety in their nature and in co-operation with any ministry in Luxembourg.

The new co-operation agreement can therefore cover different topics, such as climate change, energy, medical research, banking and finance. The two projects that are in the pipeline on climate change and energy in co-operation with Luxembourg’s Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure are expected to be started soon after this agreement has been signed.

“Luxembourg’s financial contribution to Vietnam in 2017 will remain at a similar level as in the previous years,” said Minister Schneider.

Beluxcham attends Vietnam Entrepreneur Day, October 13th 2017 at Hanoi Opera House

With the decision of H.E. the Prime Minister of Vietnam on April 20, 2004, the 13th of October has been recognized as the Vietnam Entrepreneur Day. In line with the Resolution No.09 -NQ/TW of Poliburo on building and promoting the role of the Vietnamese entrepreneur community; and the Resolution No. 10-NQ/TW on private economy development as an important motivation of the socialist-oriented market economy, Vietnamese Government has initiated a new phase of  “Enabling Government, Start-up Nation” since 2016 to facilitate business start-up and operations.

On the ocassion of Vietnam Entrepreneur Day, October 13th 2017, and with a view to  promote the eutrepreneurship, start-up movement, and sustainable development, VCCI, The Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry in coordination with Vietnam Television (VTV) organized Business Dialogue and Gala Night at the Hanoi Opera House under the theme: “Viet Nam Entrepreneurs: Homeland calls our name”,

Taking this opportunity,  Beluxcham participated in the above celebration event.


Deep C Industrial Zones/ Newsletter/ Issue 5 2017

Deep C Industrial Zones/ Newsletter/ Issue 5 2017


September 2017 – Issue 5

Inauguration ceremony of Tan Vu-Lach Huyen highway

On September 2nd, the Tan Vu – Lach Huyen Highway was officially opened for traffic. The Highway of 15.63km long begins at the intersection of Hanoi – Haiphong Expressway and ends at the gate of Lach Huyen Deep Sea Port. With a total investment of nearly VND 12 trillion, the Highway forms part of the project of developing the Lach Huyen Deep Sea Port, which is set to become the first international transit port in north Vietnam.

The Tan Vu – Lach Huyen Highway will enable investors in the region to smoothly access the Deep Sea Port, hence their domestics and international markets, by cutting down travelling time and reducing risks of ferry and barge transportation. The population of 7,000 people on Cat Hai island will also be an additional labour force due to easier commutation. Moreover, the Highway also opens up access to our DEEP C III Industrial Zone (520 ha), offering investors another premium investment location to choose from, especially for those needing direct access to deep sea port.

Enterprises from Yokkaichi City to explore investment opportunities in Haiphong

On July 10th, a delegation consisting of 17 enterprises from Yokkaichi city, Japan, led by Mr. Tomohiro Mori, the city mayor, visited Haiphong and particularly DEEP C Industrial Zones to look for investment opportunities in this area. Enterprises in the delegation were particularly interested in the situation of power supply; transportation infrastructures from ports to expressways; the shipbuilding industry of the city; as well as preferential policies for small and medium sized enterprises from Japan.

Expansion of our workshop

The construction of the second 5,400m2 workshop in Deep C I started in September 2017. In total there will be 5 workshop units of 5,400m2 each, with a floor load of 20KN/m2, and equipped with 4 gates and 8 loading bays for customers’ easy cargo handling. The workshops are also dividable into 2,700m2 and 1,350m2 units so as to better fit requirements of clients.

The workshop lease option suits small & medium sized enterprises (SMEs), facilitating these enterprises to start production immediately and experience the market, hence save substantial amount of time and initial investment cost. The new second unit will be available for lease at the beginning of next year.

The first Vietnamese automobile manufacturing project started construction on Cai Hai island

On 02/09/2017, the construction of the first Vietnamese automobile manufacturing complex on Cat Hai island, part of Dinh Vu – Cat Hai Economic Zone, was kicked off. This project of Vinfast (an affiliate of Vingroup) is expected to launch their first products as from 2019 and reach full capacity of 500,000 units in 2025, with the rate of locally made products up to 60 per cent. The project will further boost the rapidly growing manufacturing and logistics sector of Haiphong and highlight the automotive industry in the overall picture of the city’s economy.

Football tournament 2017

Football Tournament “DEEP C Cup 2017″ kicked off on August 20th 2017 and is held on every Sunday morning until October 1st 2017. This is the third consecutive year that the tournament is organized for officials and employees of all tenants in DEEP C Industrial Zones. This sport event is an opportunity to come closer to each other, build friendship, and also to bring about a better work-life balance for all people working in DEEP C Industrial Zones.

Firefighting rehearsal at the petrochemical area

June, 2017 – A firefighting drill was conducted in the Petrochemical Area of DEEP C Industrial Zones with the support of the Haiphong Fire Prevention and Firefighting Police. This important activity was joined by all tenants in the Petrochemical Area together with DEEP C team.

Understanding the importance of an effective firefighting system for our tenants, DEEP C always pay attention to the development and maintenance of an integrated system, especially in terms of water supply, water circulation, hydrants network and firefighting equipment, as well as a fire fighting team who are ready to response in any case of fire/explosion happening in the Zones.

Thuy Ngan Company Limited starts warehouse construction

In September, Thuy Ngan Company Limited kicked off the construction of their warehouse in Deep C Industrial Zones for storage and distribution of fertilizer, serving Haiphong and other provinces in the north of Vietnam. This is the 3rd warehouse of Thuy Ngan in addition to another two in Yen Bai and Lao Cai.

Laying of deck of Bach Dang bridge over Cam river

Up to now, the three pillars of the bridge have been set up as three letter H’s over Cam river, symbolizing the connection of the three key economic cities in the north, namely Hanoi – Haiphong – Ha Long (Quang Ninh).

The structure has been completed with 24 burned castings / cylinders. In early June 2017, contractors installed cantilevered vehicles and in early July, 2017 proceeded to construct blocks K1 of the bridge beams.

According to Bach Dang Bridge project management unit, the bridge will be completed in the first quarter of 2018. Together with the Haiphong – Ha Long Expressway and the Ha Long – China Highway, the project will complete the transportation connection between Hanoi, Haiphong, Quang Ninh, and later on to China border.

For more information on reliable investment location, industrial land and ready-built workshop for lease Contact Deep C Industrial Zones:

Haiphong Office: 4-5F, Harbour View Office Building, 12 Tran Phu St., Haiphong city T: +84 225 3836 169 F: +84 225 3 859 130
E: info@dinhvu.com W: www.deepc.vn

Quang Ninh Office: TK Fund Bldg 3 – Vietinbank Uong Bi Branch, Group 19, Block 6, Uong Bi, Quang Ninh
T: +84 203 3567 848/+84 203 3567 845

[VN] Governor of the Province of East-Flanders visits Vietnam to celebrate 15 years of cooperation

The governor of the Belgian province of East-Flanders Mr. Briers is visiting Vietnam to celebrate the 15 years of cooperation. In Hanoi the governor and his delegation had meetings with vice Minister of MARD, Mr. Le Quoc Doanh and with vice Minister of MoFA, Mr. Bui Thanh Son. Yesterday evening Ambassador Roccas hosted a dinner with amongst others Mr. Ngo Van Quy, Vice Chairman of Hanoi People’s Committee, Mr. Le Anh Tuan, Rector of Vietnam National Music Academy and Mr. Bruno Angelet EUDEL Ambassador to discuss potential cooperation. The province is mainly active in Lam Dong province, exchanging know-how on agricultural production thereby combining academic knowledge, business and governmental support. It is however gradually expanding its collaborations with other parties.

Source : Embassy of Belgium in Vietnam (Facebook page)