Police investigate Saigon Beer copycat

By Thi Ha   September 18, 2020 | 05:01 pm PT
Police investigate Saigon Beer copycat
A Saigon Vietnam Beer can (L), produced by Saigon Vietnam Beer Group Jsc, is placed next to a Saigon Beer can produced by Sabeco. Photo by VnExpress/Thi Ha.
Police in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province are investigating a copyright infringement involving Saigon Beer by a former employee of its brewer, Sabeco.

They found over 9,000 boxes of the Saigon Vietnam Beer with the brand name and packaging similar to that of the 43-year old Saigon Beer brand produced by Sabeco, the largest brewer in Vietnam.

The beer is distributed by the Saigon Vietnam Beer Group Jsc., not a subsidiary of Sabeco. Its CEO, Le Dinh Trung, held several positions in Sabeco for years, including assistant to the deputy CEO and head of its legal department.

Another person involved in the copyright infringement is Tran Thi Ai Loan, a distributor of Sabeco beer for the last four years.

The original headquarter address of Saigon Vietnam Beer Group Jsc was registered at Floor 9, Vincom Building, 72 Le Thanh Ton, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, the same as Sabeco.

Although the Saigon Vietnam Beer Group Jsc. later changed its headquarters to a different location in Binh Thanh District, its beer packaging carried the old address, confusing customers.

Authorities said Loan, as a legal representative, had signed a contract with BiVa Beer Brewer in southern Ba Ria–Vung Tau Province to produce the Saigon Vietnam Beer and started distributing the product in May.

The same month, Sabeco requested the Vietnam Intellectual Property Research Institute to inspect the similarities between the packaging and brand name of the two beers.

The institute concluded in June that there were signs of copyright infringement, following which Sabeco requested market authorities to intervene.

Authorities later found thousands of Saigon Vietnam Beer boxes in the southern localities of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Binh Phuoc, Soc Trang and Can Tho as well as the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak.

Each box was being sold at VND159,300 ($6.91), nearly 12 percent lower than that of Sabeco’s Saigon Beer.

Boxes of Saigon Vietnam Beer are placed in a factory in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province. Photo courtesy of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Department of Market Surveillance.

Boxes of Saigon Vietnam Beer are placed in a factory in southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province. Photo courtesy of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Department of Market Surveillance.

Vu Tuan Chau, owner of BiVa Beer Brewer, told authorities that they had distributed a total of 4,400 boxes so far.

Chau said they only produced the beer to the requirements of Saigon Beer Vietnam and was not aware of any copyright infringement.

A lawyer representing Sabeco said that the infringement has damaged their brand’s reputation and misled customers into purchasing the wrong product.

Sabeco is working with authorities to continue the investigation, the lawyer said.

No comments were available from the representatives of Saigon Beer Vietnam at the time of going to print.

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