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商标在越南被抢注为域名 外企该如何应对

发布时间:2019-10-12 14:15:09 浏览: 216

图片关键词Background:

O.S GmbH is a multinational lighting manufacturer headquartered in Munich, Germany (“the plaintiff”). The plaintiff is the owner of a series of OSRAM trademarks for lighting apparatus in Vietnam, particularly electric lamps and luminaires; parts of the aforementioned goods; light-emitting diode lamp modules.

The plaintiff detected that two ccTLD [osram.com.vn] and [osram.vn] (“Disputed Domain Names”) were registered in 2014 by a natural person in Vietnam, N.D.T (“the defendant”) and were resolved to the defendant’s active websites. The websites under the Disputed Domain Names were promoting and offering the sale of the plaintiff’s products bearing the “OSRAM” mark.

In support of the infringement allegation, the plaintiff filed a request to the Vietnam Intellectual Property Research Institute (“VIPRI”) to obtain the assessment conclusion on trademark infringement who was then issued in favour of the plaintiff. The plaintiff also proceeded with documenting the evidence of infringement through the Bailiff Office.

In early 2019, a lawsuit was brought before a court in Hanoi, Vietnam for hearing. In the lawsuit petition, the plaintiff requested that the Hanoi People’s Court (i)  revoke two domain names [osram.com.vn] and [osram.vn], (ii)  force the defendant to pay material damage of VND 500 million (——US$21,700)  due to property loss, decrease in income and profit and loss of business opportunity, (ii)  force the defendant to pay VND 200 million (——US$8,700) for hiring a lawyer to engage in the lawsuit and (vii) force the defendant to make a public apology in the local newspaper.

Court’s judgement:

Taking into account the facts of the case, on 24 July 2019, the Court issued judgment No 29/2019/DSST which ruled that:

    §  Two domain names [osram.com.vn] and [osram.vn] are revoked and priority for registration of such domain names is given to the plaintiff.

    §  The defendant is under obligation to pay the plaintiff an amount of VND 203,960,000 (—— US$ 8,870) which mainly includes fees for hiring lawyers in the lawsuit.

    §  The defendant is forced to make a public apology in the local newspaper.

In respect of court fees, the defendant was ordered to pay VND10,198,000 (—— US$ 445). Significantly, the court refused the plaintiff’s request of VND 500 million (——US$21,700) as a material damage allegedly due to property loss, decrease in income and profit and loss of business opportunity caused by the IPR infringement to the plaintiff.

Noteworthy points from the case:

(1)   Speculative  and  abusive  registration  and  maintenance  of  [.vn]  domain  names  have become a growing problem in Vietnam. This  mainly  takes  the  form  of  (i)  Vietnamese  or  foreign  individuals  or organizations   registering   [.vn]   domain   names   that   contain, or closely   imitate, the trademarks  of  other  foreign  companies  or;  (ii)  a  Vietnamese or foreign company  continuing  to  maintain  a  [.vn]  domain  name  after  its  license  or  business relationship with the trademark owner expires or is terminated or; (iii) the registrant  pointing the  domain  (or  threaten to  point  the  domain  name)  to  a  derogatory  website or; (iv) the registrant registering the [.vn] domain name to contain or closely imitate the well-known trademarks  of  other  foreign  companies, but redirect to his/her own website with another domain name. This is typically used to promote his/her Google ranking when Internet users seek key words identical to the well-known trademarks. In  each  case, the registrant often acts in “bad faith”, seeking to exploit the goodwill of the foreign party’s trademark, extort  a  payment  from  the  trademark  owner, or  trying  to benefit the trademark owner’s competitor. Some individuals register domain names comprised of a popular or well-known trademark of another party, but do nothing with the domain name and “wait for a payoff” from the owner of a trademark. Domain names are allocated on a first come, first served basis so must be registered to avoid “cybersquatting” by abusers.

(2)   To settle a trademark-based domain name dispute (i.e. cybersquatting), as a matter of principle, the following options are available to the trademark owner:

    a) Negotiations or conciliation with the registrant;

    b) Bringing the case to arbitration for their settlement;

    c) Taking action through the administrative route for the registrant’s act of unfair competition relating to the use and registration of a disputed domain name;

    d) Initiating a civil lawsuit through a Vietnamese relevant court for their ruling.

(3)   Despite four available options to settle a cybersquatting case, in practice, the two proceedings mostly used in Vietnam include (i) the civil proceeding before the courts, and (ii) the administrative proceeding before the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Science and Technology of Vietnam. Under administrative proceedings, there are two ministerial bodies involved in this proceeding, namely, Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), who is in charge of settlement of “.vn” domain name disputes, and the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC), who is responsible for management of the “.vn” domain names. Unfortunately, lack of cooperation between the two ministries meant that  the proceedings were not officially active until 2016, when Joint Circular No. 14/2016/TTLT-BTTTT-BKHCN between the two ministries was issued (Joint-Circular 14). With the issuance of Joint-Circular 14, the administrative proceeding for settling “.vn” domain name disputes was effective. However, in the case that a domain name is registered by a natural person whose address is vague, the administrative enforcement authority can not find the domain name registrant to settle the case. In such a context, a civil lawsuit may be available for the retrieval and settling of a domain name dispute provided that the Court is entitled to initiate proceedings in the defendant’s absence.

(4)   To win a trademark-based domain name dispute, the prerequisite is that the trademark on which infringement is claimed must not only be registered in Vietnam, but also widely used in commerce in Vietnam.

As per Article 130 (d) of the IP Law, cybersquatting constitutes an act of “unfair competition” for which an aggrieved party may initiate a lawsuit in Vietnamese court. The following evidence should be taken into account when the trademark owner wishes to take action against the cybersquatter:

a) The IPR holder has used a mark in a widespread and stable manner, of which reputation or prestige pertaining to products/services bearing such brand has been known by public consumers in Vietnam. Substantiated proofs may comprise information on advertisement, marketing, display and exhibition; sales; quantity of products sold; system of distribution agents, joint ventures and associations; investment scale; evaluations of state agencies and the mass media, consumer picks and other information showing the well-known status and reputation of the business entity, goods or services bearing such mark in its business activities in Vietnam.

b) The accused party has used the domain name on the Internet for advertisement or introduction of products, offer for sale or sale of identical, similar or relevant goods or services, causing harm to the reputation or material interests of the trademark holder.

Moreover, the accused party continues to use a misleading mark through such domain name despite having been notified by the trademark owner and offered the possibility of negotiations to reach an agreement on reasonable conditions for such use, to which he does not consent.

c) The accused party has registered but failed to activate within one year the domain name with wording identical to a mark which is in widespread use and widely used and reputable in Vietnam. Additionally, here are also grounds to believe that he has registered for holding the right to use the domain name only for resale for profits or to prevent the trademark owner from registering the domain name, despite having been notified and offered negotiation for agreement by the industrial property rights holder.

(5)   One of the criteria for the transfer or cancellation of the disputed domain names is that “the domain names are used for posting information in violation of IP laws”. Hence, in the case of a domain name that is not active, dissimilarly to the UDRP proceeding, such a “passive holding” is not accepted as an indication of bad faith, and thus, may result in the unsuccessful outcome of the case. The right holder is advised to keep a close watch on the inactive domain names, and once they become active, enforcement actions should then be taken.

(6)   Claiming damage compensation in civil proceedings in Vietnam

In the above-mentioned lawsuit petition, the plaintiff requested the Court in Vietnam to demand the defendant to pay, among others, an amount of VND 500 million (——US$21,700) as a damage compensation. However, the court did not accept such a request of damage compensation, instead simply ordering the defendant to pay the fees paid by the plaintiff for hiring the lawyers in the lawsuit. Practice indicates that it is often not easy to claim for damage compensation as desired by the IPR holders in Vietnam. To claim for damages from infringers, the plaintiff must provide the Court with evidence proving that they have been actually and directly damaged due to the IPR infringement caused by the infringer in Vietnam. Such proof may constitute as loss in property and/or decrease in income, profits and/or losses in business opportunities and/or reasonable expenses for prevention and remedy of damage. The proof of damage on which compensation is based must be in clear and legitimate evidence, showing the direct causal nexus between the infringement and the damage. Practice also indicates that most claims for damages filed by IPR holders were dismissed because they are not considered as actual losses directly caused by acts of IPR infringement to the IPR holder in Vietnam. The compensation ordered by the Court to be paid by the infringer to the IPR holder is, therefore, not considerable.

(7)   Attorney’s fees/Lawyer’s fee in a civil litigation

Under Article 205.3 of Vietnam IP Law, in addition to the damage, industrial property right holders shall also have the right to request the court to compel organizations or individuals that have committed acts of infringement upon industrial property rights to pay reasonable costs of hiring attorneys (attorney’s fee). Thus, the Complainant is statutorily entitled to request a Court in Vietnam to recover attorney’s fees in a civil lawsuit concerning IPR infringement.

(8)   Bailiff’s Witness document in the litigation proceedings in Vietnam

For acts infringing upon industrial property rights on the Internet, the Bailiff’s Witness document is critical in recording the infringement evidence which is normally accepted by the court. A Title of Evidence (or Bailiff’s Witness document) is a document which records evidentiary facts. It may be placed before the court to support a party’s argument or it may be used to demonstrate that a transaction has been lawfully carried out. It may also be used as evidence of the existence of a legal relationship. In general, the subject matter of a Title of Evidence (or Bailiff’s Witness document) may be any fact.

译文大意

  背景

  O.S GmbH(原告)是一家总部位于德国慕尼黑的跨国照明产品生产商。在越南,其拥有一系列OSRAM商标,涵盖电灯、灯具及零部件,发光二极管灯具组件等照明仪器。

  原告发现2个国家代码顶级域名(osram.com.vn和osram.vn)于2014年被越南的某自然人(被告)进行了注册和使用。系争网站用于宣传和销售原告带有“OSRAM”商标的产品。

  为了提起侵权诉讼,原告请求越南知识产权局(VIPRI)出具商标侵权评估报告。同时,原告还请求法庭事务官办公室(Bailiff Office)将侵权证据归档。

  2019年初,原告向越南河内的法院提起诉讼,请求河内人民法院(1)撤销系争域名;(2)责令被告赔偿原告5亿越南盾的损失(财产损失、收入和利润下滑、商业机会丢失);(3)责令被告向原告支付2亿越南盾的律师费;以及(4)责令被告在地方报刊上登载公开道歉声明。

  法院的裁决:

  2019年7月24日,法院基于案件事实作出如下裁定(案件号为29/2019/DSST):

  ——撤销osram.com.vn和osram.vn域名,域名注册优先权归原告所有;

  ——被告应向原告支付2.04亿越南盾,主要为律师费;

  ——被告应在当地报刊上发表公开道歉声明。

  就法庭费用而言,被告支付1019.8万越南盾。显然,法院拒绝了原告5亿越南盾实质损害赔偿的请求。

  此案值得注意的事项:

  1.在越南,出于投机目的注册和维护.vn域名成为越来越普遍的现象,主要包含如下几种形式:

  ——越南人或外国人或组织注册包含或模仿外国企业商标的域名;

  ——越南或外国企业在其与商标所有人的许可或商业关系到期后仍继续持有相关域名;

  ——注册人让域名指向带有诋毁性质的网站;

  ——注册人注册包含或模仿外国公司知名商标的域名,但通过另一个域名指向自己的网站,此举主要是为了提升其在谷歌搜索结果中的排名。

  注册人的上述行为都是出于恶意,旨在利用外国方商标的声誉,向商标所有人敲诈钱财,或让商标所有人的竞争者获益。域名的分配规则是先到先得,因此要提高对抢注行为的重视程度。

  2.原则上,商标所有人可选择如下方式解决与商标有关的域名纠纷(如抢注):

  ——与注册方协商或和解;

  ——仲裁;

  ——通过行政途径打击注册方注册和使用系争域名开展不公平竞争的行为;

  ——向越南有关法院提起民事诉讼。

  3.尽管存在4种应对抢注案件的方式,但在实践中常用的只有2种:民事诉讼以及向越南科技部调查处提起行政程序。在行政程序中,两个部级机构(负责.vn纠纷的科技部以及负责.vn域名管理的信息通信部)均会参与其中。不幸的是,由于这两大机构缺乏适当的合作机制,2016年之前的行政程序收效甚微。直到两大机构联合发布《第14/2016/TTLT-BTTTT-BKHCN号公告》,.vn域名纠纷的行政程序才初见成效。但是,如果注册域名的自然人地址不清楚,行政执法机构也不能找到域名注册人。在这种情况下可通过民事诉讼解决域名纠纷,而法院有权在被告缺席的情况下启动诉讼程序。

  4.赢得商标域名纠纷的先决条件是,遭到侵权的商标不仅在越南获得注册,而且在越南已被广泛投入到商业使用中。

  根据《知识产权法》第130(d)条的规定,域名抢注构成不公平竞争行为,受害方可向越南的法院提起诉讼。商标所有人向抢注者提起诉讼时应考虑如下证据:

  a.知识产权持有人已对商标进行广泛而持续的使用,越南消费者知晓带有该商标的产品或服务的声誉。实质性的证据包括广告、营销、展示或展览、销售额、已售产品数量等信息。

  b.被告方已使用相关域名推广产品,要约销售或销售相同、相似或相关的产品或服务,导致商标持有人的声誉或实质利益受损。

  另外,尽管商标持有人已发出通知并提出以合理的条件来商讨许可使用事宜,但被告方仍不接受并继续在域名中使用具有误导性的商标。

  c.被告方注册了包含与已在越南知名且广泛使用的商标相同或相似的文字的域名,但未在注册后的1年内进行使用。如果商标持有人已通知被告方并提出协商要求,则有理由推断注册人是为了通过转售域名盈利或阻止商标所有人注册域名。

  5.域名转让或撤销的核心条件之一是域名用于发布违反知识产权法的信息。在域名未激活的情况下,“消极持有”(passive holding)不能被视为出于恶意,因此可能导致败诉。权利人应密切关注未启动的域名,一旦域名启用,便要采取行动。

  6.在民事诉讼中主张损害赔偿。在上述案件中,原告请求法院责令被告支付5亿越南盾的损害赔偿。但是,法院并未接受这一请求,而是要求被告向原告支付律师费。实践证明,知识产权持有人很难在越南主张损害赔偿。为了获得损害赔偿,原告必须向法院提供能够证明侵权人对其造成直接实际损失的证据。此类证据包括财产损失、收入和利润下滑、商业机会丢失以及阻止和补救损害的合理支出。损害赔偿证据必须清晰、合法,能展示侵权与损害的直接因果关系。在实践中,知识产权持有人绝大多数要求获得损害赔偿的主张都会被驳回,原因是法院并不认为其主张的赔偿是其蒙受的实际损失。因此,越南的法院判付给知识产权持有人的赔偿数额都不是很大。

  7.民事诉讼中的律师费。根据《知识产权法》第205.3条的规定,除了损害赔偿,知识产权持有人有权请求法院责令实施侵权行为的组织或个人向其支付合理的律师费。

  8.法庭事务官的证明文件。就网络知识产权侵权而言,法庭事务官出具的证明文件至关重要,因为法院认可此类侵权证据。法庭事务官的证明文件可用于支持一方的主张,证明交易行为合法,或证明法律关系。总之,此类文件就是事实证据。

    原文链接:https://www.ip-coster.com/News/a-trademark-based-domain-name-dispute-heard-by-court-in-vietnam-waht-should-foreign-businesses-know/330


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