Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, can I begin by saying how glad I am to be surrounded by British businesses who are already successfully exporting to the ASEAN region.
We are very privileged today (23 Spetember 2015) to be joined by Tran Viet Thanh, Vice Minister from Ministry of Science and Technology Director General of the National Office of Intellectual Property (NOIP). This is a great opportunity for us to share insights as to how IP systems can help businesses and promote growth. I am looking forward to a constructive discussion about how we can work together to promote improved ways of doing IP business, whether that be registering, managing or enforcing IP.
I have a long career in the private sector so I understand the concerns and needs of business, especially when expanding and operating overseas in some of the world’s most challenging markets – I operated in South East Asia for 14 years and indeed was responsible for a big IP portfolio!
Help in ASEAN
We are here to help you succeed and grow in this region. Such success should reap benefits for the UK and Vietnam. Vietnam is growing at an impressive 6% and has a young and dynamic population and if we can win investor confidence trade and investment between our countries can flourish and increase. I know how much the Prime Minister appreciated his recent visit and I am now here to follow up in the area of innovation and intellectual property (IP).
Since October 2013 the Intellectual Property Office’s (IPO) specialist IP attaché to South East Asia, Christabel Koh, who some of you may know, has been covering the 10 ASEAN markets and I must say that she, and her counterpart in China, have made a step change and helped a number of companies with IP challenges as part of our overall trade and investment offer.
Christabel is able to work with the relevant teams in the Vietnamese government. We can’t of course offer any miracle cures, and her remit is around intellectual property, because we believe the UK and Vietnam can work to target the problem areas that are most useful for UK business.
Vietnam and beyond
We have had an IP system in the UK for hundreds of years, although it is continuously changing with the times not least the digital revolution. Here in Vietnam the IP system may be, relatively speaking, new but the Vietnamese government have shown that they want to build a system that works, both for their own businesses and creations and for overseas businesses coming to Vietnam. This presents us with a great opportunity. Through events such as this, we can build greater mutual respect and trust and make progress of benefit to both nations.
Vietnam is of course geographically adjacent to China and the rest of ASEAN. This presents its own issues, but also its own opportunities. How best can we, together, work with enforcement agencies across international borders to help restrict the routes through ASEAN for fake and counterfeit products? And prevent these from flowing around the world and hurting your reputation in important markets like the EU.
We are already working with the Vietnamese to fight IP crime on a programme which will help them to enforce IP rights at their borders. It is early days but we hope by sharing expertise, knowledge, techniques and training methods we can improve the fight against IP crime.
Over many years, we have really improved the enforcement of UK IP rights and as a result the Taylor Wessing Global IP Index has judged the UK to be the best place in the world to obtain, exploit and enforce IP rights. Something we are rightly proud of and keen to hang on to.
Important initiatives which may be of interest include: site blocking with industry support, a dedicated IP online crime unit in the City of London Police and the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court giving access to justice for smaller businesses and individual creators.
I very much look forward to working more with our Vietnamese partners to identify innovation, to improve enforcement, enhance research and creativity and limit IP theft.
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that Vietnam presents a fantastic opportunity for UK businesses. Through engagement with British business, and with Christabel providing specialist IP support, we have a unique opportunity to work with the Vietnamese government to create an IP system that is beneficial to UK and Vietnamese businesses.
But I am here to engage with you and look forward to your questions.