Several ao dai makers in Vietnam had used paintings by local artists as patterns for the Vietnamese traditional dresses without their knowledge and consent.
At least four ao dai manufacturers are known to have used artworks by different artists based in Hanoi and the central city of Hue as patterns for their products.
The artists only discovered these copyright infringements when they saw the dresses, patterned with their works, on sale on the internet.
Most of the painters were infuriated to know that their works had been used without their knowledge and consent, and of course, without any royalty fees being given to them.
But what irritates them even more is that their paintings had been aggressively forced to fit into the costumes. Ao dai must be patterned with other forms of arts rather than paintings, according to the artists.
|Some the P.T. Co's ao dai designs featuring Bui Trong Du’s paintings without his permission|
One of the victims of the blatant intellectual property infringement is Bui Trong Du, whose works had been illegally used by L.A., a company that provides digital printing for fabrics.
Du told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper he contacted the company over the issue, only to be told that his paintings could be “freely used by any entities” as they are widely available on the internet.
Only after the story made local headlines did Du receive an official apology from L.A, which promised to delete all the ao dai designs that use his works as patterns.
The company sought forgiveness from Du, excusing that as a small-sized firm, they just lack knowledge in intellectual property right.
‘Even a worm will turn’
A group of eight artists, including Du, have signed a joint document, asking L.A. and three other companies that violated their intellectual property to immediately stop using their works for any purposes, and to commit to never repeat the infringement.
Du said they had to take such a tough action as it is not the first time such a copyright infringement happened.
“Even a worm will turn, we cannot close our eyes anymore,” he said.
“If they fail to give us positive responses, we will take the case to court.”
These strong reactions have received support from the public and responses from the copyright infringers.
The director of P.T., one of the four companies involved in the case, called Du on Thursday to express his apology and promise to follow all the requests by the eight artists.
On the same day, another company, L.H., admitted in a Facebook post that their designers had illegally used the artists’ paintings, and pledged not to supply, trade, or use them for commercial purposes.
But lawyers hired by the group of artists said the involved companies have to respond in written documents, rather than via a phone call or a post on Facebook.
Should the copyright infringers fail to do so by May 19, the artists will take further legal actions against them.