Copyright vs. Patent in Vietnam

Distinguishing the differences between copyrights and patents helps holders determine the most effective form of protection.




Subject matter eligible for protection

All ideas expressed by human beings in the form of scripts, images, music, or programs and data.

Products and/or processes created by human beings that meet the requirements of being novel, creative, and susceptible of industrial application.

Subject matter not eligible for protection

News of the day as mere items of press information.

Legal documents and other documents in the judicial domain.

Processes, systems, operation methods, concepts, principles, and data.

Scientific discoveries or theories, mathematical methods;

Presentations of information;

Solutions of aesthetical characteristics only;

Plant varieties, animal breeds; 

Processes of plant production (which are principally of biological nature without any human intervention);

Human and animal disease prevention, diagnostic and treatment methods.

Term of protection

For the whole life of the author and for 50 years after his/her death.

Cinematographic works, photographic works, dramatic works, works of applied art, and anonymous works are protected for 50 years as from the date of first publication.

For 20 years as from the date of application.

Validity of protection


Patent protection is applied within a territory and is not automatically obtained in other countries.

Method of registration for protection

Copyright protection is registered at the Copyright Office.

Patent protection is registered at the NOIP.

International agreements

The Berne Convention

The Paris Convention, The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)

Articles 13, 14, 15, 58, 59, and 93 of the 2005 Law on Intellectual Property, amended and supplemented in 2009

Our experience

For example: A production chain automation program can be registered under both a patent (for the production chain) and a copyright (for the program, sketches, and designs).

The period of time required for the grant of a patent is considerably long (from 24 to 30 months) with high costs (State fees of US$86 and service fees from US$430 to US$646) causes difficulties for individual holders in registering and maintaining a patent.

On the other hand, the copyright registration process is much shorter (only 2 to 3 weeks) with lower costs (State fees of US$13 to US$21.5 and service fees of US$107 to US$129). However, a copyright for work and sketches receives less effective protection compared to patent.

For example: If wood screws are only copyright protected in terms of design sketches, it would be difficult to prevent fraudulent commercial production and trading of similarly shaped screws.

Law on Intellectual Property permits copyright protection for software and computer programs.

Circular 211/2016/TT-BTC dated November 10th, 2016

PLF is the Organization of Industrial Property Representation in Vietnam – an entity authorized by the National Office of Intellectual Property to act on behalf of individuals and enterprises to establish and enforce intellectual property rights.

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