Vietnam

Vietnam features in the IAM Patent 1000 for the first time this year. As manufacturing costs increase in China, more and more companies are relocating to its southern neighbour; this trend is fuelling heightened diligence with regard to patent registration. While domestic filings remain modest – driven mainly by generics entities – inbound applications are on the rise, with Japanese applications in particular accounting for nearly one-quarter of total filings. Pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals players feature especially prominently in the statistics, with automobile entities close behind. Like most countries with nascent patent regimes, Vietnam still lacks a robust framework to manage disputes. However, while most cases are still handled by the Ministry of Science and Technology through the administrative route, this is soon expected to change; jurisprudence has also developed significantly thanks to a string of recent infringement decisions and damages awards. The future thus looks promising for practitioners and market players alike.

Firms

H
D&N International
Invenco (Vietnam International Trademarks & Patents Agent)
Pham & Associates
Rouse Legal
Tilleke & Gibbins
TRUNG THUC JSC
VCCI-IP Co Ltd
Vision & Associates
D&N International
D&N International is a dominant force on the Vietnamese patent landscape. Founded in 1992, the Hanoi boutique brings unique commercial insight to bear when handling patent briefs for prestigious foreign clients. It recently represented Sanyo Electric and Sanyo Aqua in matters relating to valuable patents for washing machine designs and assisted Masterpack with a patent for quadruple-wall corrugated paperboard. Founder Thuy Dang is treasured for her encyclopaedic knowledge of the Southeast Asian IP scene; the National Office of Intellectual Property (NOIP) alumna has supported a wide range of concerns with “consistently thoughtful and creative” counsel.
Invenco (Vietnam International Trademarks & Patents Agent)
Award-winning IP specialist Invenco is best known for its trademark expertise, but also packs a mighty punch on the patent scene; it has racked up accolades from a plethora of government ministries in particular, thanks to its far-reaching technical expertise. Prominent in the national filing figures, it caters ably to both local concerns and foreign rights holders – in particular those from the United States, Sweden, South Korea and Japan. It is also a fine choice for those seeking regional protection, as many of its experts are au fait with the local regimes in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. Patent head Vu Huong Giang is a key contact.
Pham & Associates
Pham & Associates earns effusive admiration from clients and peers alike; it dispatches work “of a scale and calibre unmatched by other domestic outfits”. Accounting for the lion’s share of national filings, the IP-focused firm boasts a cadre of more than 100 attorneys, including several dozen engineers and scientists who can assist its seasoned patent professionals on the minutiae of any matter. “Each patent attorney at Pham has his or her own specialisation. That is a bit of a rarity and something that other firms in Vietnam should strive for.” From three offices, it ensures nationwide coverage. Managing partner Vu Khanh Toan Pham distils complex national legislation into easily understandable terms for foreign stakeholders. He has a background in physics and is active in an array of international organisations.
Rouse Legal
UK-headquartered Rouse is best known in Vietnam for its tenacious anti-counterfeiting efforts; its comprehensive investigatory capabilities have attracted numerous companies with interests to protect across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region. It also has enviable portfolio advisory expertise. Offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City keep its practitioners a stone’s throw away from the country’s key courts and commercial heartland. Close ties with multinationals and research universities reflect its ability to provide strategic counsel of all colours. Chris Vale is a name for the contact book.
Tilleke & Gibbins
“Tilleke & Gibbins is probably one of the few major foreign players in the country conducting substantial patent litigation and is certainly at the top of the class when it comes to results.” The Thai-based outfit is consistently relied on by pharmaceutical originators: “It brings meaningful cases to court in a location you don’t often think of as an innovator-generics battleground.” On the non-contentious side, the 25-member crew prosecutes applications from heavyweight foreign drug manufacturers and electronics companies, and manages substantial motorcycle portfolios in one of the world’s largest markets for the two-wheeled vehicles. The engine of the firm’s success, managing director Thomas Treutler has singular knowledge of foreign legal systems and is registered to practise before the US Patent and Trademark Office and the US International Trade Commission; his strong suits include semiconductors. Loc Xuan Le maintains a thriving enforcement practice, serving on various pharmaceutical, engineering and agrochemical tours of duty.
TRUNG THUC JSC
Patent-centric boutique Trung Thuc JSC stands out among its predominantly brand-focused competitors. Overseas filers seeking a sharp, innovative technical perspective line up to instruct it and it has consequently amassed a loyal following of patrons from around the globe: “It is easy to communicate with and dedicated to going through the necessary administrative steps for each and every application.” Pharmaceuticals, telecommunications and automobiles are fortes. Hai Yen Thieu brings 20 years of experience in life sciences to the table and has penned popular guides to the Vietnamese patent system. Nguyen Viet Thang specialises in the telecommunications and materials science sectors.
VCCI-IP Co Ltd
VCCI-IP (Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry) has blazed a trail in patent protection since its state-sponsored inception in 1984. Consistently a top filer, it was the first firm authorised to process foreign applications. Its blend of scientific rigour and legal prowess proves especially popular with Japanese enterprises – a sparkling client roster features some of the world’s most celebrated electronics and automobile concerns.
Vision & Associates
“Vision is a top player in Vietnam. The big multinationals have known this for years – it’s no surprise that work keeps coming its way.” While famed for its muscular corporate practice, it also has an impressive IP offering. Meeting and exceeding the needs of a healthy balance of national and international clients, the 35-strong patent team is a favourite of pharmaceutical, chemical and semiconductor companies. Finely attuned to developments at NOIP, it has participated in a remarkable share of the country’s rare but momentous patent enforcement actions. Managing partner Pham Nghiem Xuan Bac has more than 30 years’ experience to his name and offers sage counsel informed by a stint as a patent examiner. IP head Nguyet Dzung Nguyen operates adeptly across all stages of the patent lifecycle; her client roster is packed with marquee international names.

Individuals

Pham Nghiem Xuan Bac - Vision & Associates
Thuy TH Dang - D&N International
Loc Xuan Le - Tilleke & Gibbins
Nguyet Dzung Nguyen - Vision & Associates
Vu Khanh Toan Pham - Pham & Associates
Hai Yen Thieu - TRUNG THUC JSC
Thomas J Treutler - Tilleke & Gibbins
Nguyen Viet Thang - TRUNG THUC JSC
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Issue 82