Vietnam: Loophole in .vn domain name disputes
Managing IP is part of the Delinian Group, Delinian Limited, 4 Bouverie Street, London, EC4Y 8AX, Registered in England & Wales, Company number 00954730
Copyright © Delinian Limited and its affiliated companies 2024

Accessibility | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Modern Slavery Statement

Vietnam: Loophole in .vn domain name disputes

Vietnam, like many other countries in the world, has an open policy on the registration and use of its country code top-level domain name, .vn. Accordingly, any individual or organisation, whether domestic or foreign, whether present in Vietnam or not, has the right to register and subsequently use domain names ending in .vn.

With such an open policy, disputes over domain names will naturally arise, especially when unrelated applicants register names similar to, or containing, the protected marks and brands of IP rights holders. While it seems that Vietnam has done well at creating a convenient mechanism allowing anyone to easily register and use domain names, it has not yet been able to establish an adequate mechanism to resolve the disputes arising therefrom.

An interesting challenge arises in cases where the registrant and user of the .vn domain name is located abroad and has never been present in Vietnam. For example, an enterprising cybersquatter in a foreign country could register the .vn version of an emerging tech company's .com domain name before the legitimate rights holder has turned its attention to securing all possible international permutations of its domain name.

Legal obstacles

In issues relating to cyberspace, Vietnamese law has struggled to keep up with rapid changes in technology, and this hinders the ability of rights holders to seek redress in the case of infringement by persons or entities located outside of Vietnam. The first obstacle is that Vietnam's legal system does not yet contain clear provisions to deal with situations where a defendant is located outside of Vietnam. In this regard, it must be noted that at present all domain name disputes must be handled by civil or administrative actions (there is no mandatory arbitration required, and no cybersquatters would voluntarily agree to arbitration). An administrative action is essentially impossible, as the administrative body is required to meet face-to-face with the cybersquatter to directly serve a decision on inspection.

The current Civil Procedure Code of Vietnam, which was adopted in 2015 and entered into effect on July 1 2016, sets out in Article 189.3(d) that one of the mandatory factors for a lawsuit to be accepted is that the complaint must clearly indicate the name and residential address (for an individual) or the address of the headquarters (for a legal entity) of the defendant, or at least the last residential/headquarters address of the individual or legal entity. The law only affords jurisdiction in cases where the individual or organisation was in Vietnam and thus had a home or business address in Vietnam, or perhaps used to have a home or business address in Vietnam. The law as written did not contemplate a situation where the defendant had never lived or established an office in Vietnam, but undertook actions that had an effect in Vietnam, such as registering an infringing .vn domain name online from overseas.

Creative solutions

The lack of jurisdiction could be overcome if judges and administrative authorities use some creative approaches and flexible readings of the laws on the books.

One such reading may include considering a domain name as a type of "property" located in Vietnam, and, thus, jurisdiction being justified. In this regard, Article. 68.1 of the Law on Information Technology states: "Vietnamese national domain names ending in '.vn' and their lower-level domain names constitute a part of national information resources, which are of the same utility and must be managed, exploited and used for proper purposes and with efficiency." Thus, it is plausible for courts to view the .vn domain name resource as a natural resource similar to coal or oil. Accordingly, there is no reason why the court of Vietnam should not have jurisdiction over these disputes.

One other mechanism that could help the current jurisdictional issues in the context of domain name disputes would be for Vietnam to require registrants of .vn domain names to agree to a mandatory arbitration process when they register their domain name. At present, arbitration must be agreed to by both parties. Of course, if the cybersquatter is seeking to extort funds from the rightful owner of the domain name, they will not submit to arbitration.

In the meantime, all disputes must be solved through civil or administrative actions, or by negotiation with the cybersquatter. Moreover, the domain name registry should be required to collect and provide transparently the names, addresses and contact information of registrants when a dispute arises.


Thomas J Treutler

Loc Xuan Le

Tilleke & GibbinsHAREC Building, 4th Floor4A Lang Ha Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam Tel: +84 4 3772 6688Fax: +84 4 3772

more from across site and ros bottom lb

More from across our site

External counsel for automotive companies explain how trends such as AI and vehicle connectivity are affecting their practices and reveal what their clients are prioritising
We provide a rundown of Managing IP’s news and analysis coverage from the week, and review what’s been happening elsewhere in IP
The winners of the awards will be revealed at a gala dinner in New York City on April 25
Counsel debate the potential outcome of SCOTUS’s latest copyright case after justices questioned whether they should dismiss it
Each week Managing IP speaks to a different IP lawyer about their life and career
The small Düsseldorf firm is making a big impact in the UPC. Founding partner Christof Augenstein explains why
The court criticised Oppo’s attempts to delay proceedings and imposed a penalty, adding that the Chinese company may need to pay more if the trial isn’t concluded this year
Miguel Hernandez explains how he secured victory for baby care company Naterra in his first oral argument before the Federal Circuit
The UPC judges are wrong – restricting access to court documents, and making parties appoint a lawyer only to have a chance of seeing them, is madness
The group, which includes the Volkswagen, Seat and Audi brands, is now licensed to use SEPs owned by more than 60 patent owners
Gift this article