A 3-year long grass roots investigation by locals, expats, and even tourists revealed that the Phu Quoc Cham organizer and creator of Visit Phu Quoc guidebooks and maps on #PhuQuoc was selling counterfeit brand name merchandise products such as Coach Handbags, Forever21, Zara, etc. at the Buddy Boutique store in Duong Dong Town. In Q4 2017 infringed images were removed from their Facebook Page. In Q1 2018, the Facebook Page was removed altogether. Countless tourists were ripped off and the brand equity built by these international brands had taken a hit. International hotels and similar businesses operating in Phu Quoc need to disclose to their shareholders, investors, and guests why they partner with those who violate national and international law and why they did not conduct a thorough background check prior to signing any marketing agreements.
The counterfeit products industry in Asia is tightly linked to child slave labor, gangs, prostitution, unsafe chemical use, etc. Vietnam has struggled with this industry for numerous years yet does not do anything to protect local and international brands. The People’s Committee of Kien Giang Province and the People’s Committee of Phu Quoc still have done nothing to curb white collar crime on the island. It is illegal to sell and distribute counterfeit products in Vietnam.
Phu Quoc Cham, also known as Phu Quoc Chamber of Commerce and/or Quoc Cham, is a monthly business networking event located on Phú Quốc in Vietnam. It is a great place to meet the expat business community on Phu Quoc Island and discover new venues – however all the positives of this business networking event is eroded and diminished as the organizers shady past has surfaced.
On surface, it appears that the”Phu Quoc Cham” events are organized by professional and ethical group of local businesses, but in fact it was created by an old Australian expat – one who has been selling and distributing counterfeit products on Phu Quoc, Vietnam – a violation of Vietnam Law and International Counterfeit Product Laws. Facebook was also used to market these counterfeit products for the past 3 years, violating a) common sense and b) Facebook's Terms of Service.
IP infringements in general and trademark infringements in particular harm genuine businesses, cause confusion, reduce customer trust in protected products as well as cause damage to customers who buy counterfeit goods. According to current regulations, manufacturers, importers, traders and warehousing of counterfeit or trademark-infringing products could be fined up to VND 250.000.000 (about USD 12.000) and the infringers could face imprisonment.
According to the Vietnamese government, Phu Quoc Cham is not a registered non-profit. On surface, the intent appears to be a fun local networking event however given the organizers past behavior on the island, it appears that this is another one of his marketing projects in order to drive viability into his other projects as seen here.