Civil IP damages in Vietnam

Last September, Tri Viet-First News, a publishing company, filed a lawsuit against the American International School of Foreign Language Training for the illegal copying of its training books. The matter has now been settled according to media reports, with the Defendant agreeing to pay compensation of VND700 million (approx. US$33,600).

In April 2012 Tri Viet-First News sued two companies (HCM City’s Australia International Language School and Viet Nam Australia Society English Centre) in the Ho Chi Minh City Peoples' Court for illegally copying thousands of its TOEFEL and TOEIC materials. It sought damages of VND380 million (approx. US$18,100) and stated that it would not settle, but intended to pursue the case to the end. In June 2012, however, it accepted compensation of VND380 million.

These are important precedents in Vietnam which has a very young civil IP docket. Firstly that damages were awarded in cases last year, which were for sensible not nominal amounts; then also that a defendant would settle on such a basis later on. This gives a clear indication of the deterrent value of damages awards. As is often the case, local companies have to fight and win cases to set the precedents.