Under the Law on Intellectual Property of Vietnam, copyright shall arise at the moment a work is created and fixed in a certain material form, irrespective of its content, quality, form, mode and language, and irrespective of whether or not such work has been published or registered.
Although registration is not a mandatory condition for copyright protection, copyright registration is recommended for the following reasons:
- Copyright registration serves as prima facie proof of ownership. In particular, the law provides that the registrant shall not be required to prove their copyright ownership, unless the other side raises evidence to the contrary.
- A simple certificate of copyright registration can replace tons of documents which are often required to prove copyright ownership over the work. For instance, if the work is created abroad, the documents proving the chain of creation would have be translated into Vietnamese, notarised and legalised. Having a copyright registration certificate makes things a lot easier. This is true not only for handling copyright infringement with the enforcement authorities but also for dealing with the infringer and/or the intermediary service provider by way of cease and desist letters and/or notice and take down measures.
- Having a foreign certificate of copyright registration helps to a certain extent, but in addition to the translation, notarisation and legalisation of the foreign certificate as mentioned above, some enforcement authorities in Vietnam may not be familiar with the coverage of the foreign copyright registration. Therefore it is much more effective to have a Vietnamese copyright registration.
- Copyright registration also facilitates licensing or assignment arrangements. In practice, many licensees/assignees would ask for copyright proof of the licensed/assigned work, especially where co-authors and/or co-owners are involved.
- No substantive examination is required for copyright registration. The copyright registration procedure therefore is straightforward, inexpensive and relatively quick in comparison with industrial design or trade mark registration. Besides, if for some reasons industrial design and/or trade mark protection cannot be obtained, the owner may consider obtaining copyright registration to protect things like product shape, packaging design or logo.
What can be registered?
We have helped clients obtain copyright registration in Vietnam for many types of copyright works, e.g.:
- Literary and scientific works, textbooks, course books and other works available in the form of written languages or other characters;
- Lectures, addresses and other speeches;
- Press works;
- Musical works;
- Dramatic works;
- Cinematographic works and works created by the method like the method of creating cinematographic works;
- Plastic-art works (i.e. works presented by lines, colors, three-dimensional figures or layouts, such as works of fine-arts, graphic arts, sculpture, etc.) and applied-art works;
- Photographic works;
- Architectural works;
- Sketches, plans, maps and drawings related to topography, architecture or scientific works:
- Computer programs and data collections.
How long is the copyright registration valid for?
A copyright registration is valid throughout the entire territory of Vietnam during the protection term of the copyright work, i.e. indefinite term for moral rights (except the moral right to publish the work) and (i) the whole life of the author plus 50 years or (ii) 75 years, depending on types of work, for economic rights and the moral right to publish the work.
And the application process?
The Copyright Office of Vietnam is the competent authority in charge of copyright registration in Vietnam. An application for copyright registration shall include a declaration form for registration of the copyright; copies of the works; a notarised and legalised Power of Attorney and other necessary documents such as documents evidencing the applicant’s right to file an application (e.g. through inheritance, transfer or assignment); documents evidencing the agreements of all co-authors and/or co-owners, etc.
In practice, a copyright registration can be obtained as quickly as around 1 or 2 months from the submission date if all the submitted documents are in order.
Authored by Eugene Low and My Doan