Anticounterfeiting Committee Holds Dialogue in Manila, the Philippines

Published: July 1, 2019

Editha Hechanova Hechanova Bugay Vilchez & Andaya-Racadio Makati City, the Philippines

INTA’s Anticounterfeiting-East Asia and Pacific Subcommittee and the law offices of Hechanova Bugay Vilchez & Andaya-Racadio (the Philippines) co-hosted a policy dialogue on May 30, focused on enforcement strategies. In attendance were members of the National Committee of Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR), brand owners, and intellectual property (IP) practitioners

The NCIPR is an inter-agency body tasked with formulating and implementing plans and policies for the protection and enforcement of IP rights in the Philippines. The dialogue covered the administrative enforcement powers of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL).

The event was attended by participants from both the public and the private sectors, including several agencies of the NCIPR, such as the Optical Media Board (OMB), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Bureau of Customs (BOC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and IPOPHL. Attendees from the private sector included trademark owners, law firms, and other organizations involved in the enforcement of IP rights.

The dialogue began with a welcome address from IPOPHL Deputy Director General Teodoro Pascua, emphasizing IPOPHL’s appreciation of the exchange of information and ideas during events such as this. Brian Law (Eversheds Harry Elias, Singapore) and Anticounterfeiting-East Asia and Pacific Subcommittee Chair, outlined INTA’s mission and activities, explaining that INTA aims to foster consumer rights and economic growth through advocating for effective trademark laws and policies worldwide.

Mr. Law noted that INTA advocates for strengthened anticounterfeiting enforcement through effective collaboration between governments and trademark owners. He also emphasized the need for continued policy dialogues between law enforcement representatives from the government, and those from the private sector.

Marlita Dagsa (Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Office, Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines) discussed administrative enforcement under IPO Office Order No. 13-170 Rules of Procedure on Intellectual Property (IPR) Enforcement, and the functions of the IPR Enforcement Office (IEO) of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines. Ms. Dagsa also enumerated the various enforcement actions provided for by the Office Order. She went on to share insight on the current state of administrative enforcement activities, including the challenges of being a “one man team” at the IEO.

Chester Cinco, head of the NCIPR Secretariat, explained that as of April 2019, the total value of seized goods has risen to PHP 663,372,633.00 (approximately USD 13 million), with a cumulative total of PHP 95 billion (approximately USD 1.8 billion) since 2005.

Mr. Cinco advocated for the institutionalization of engagement among IP stakeholders. He emphasized the need for a multi-agency approach, since IP enforcement is too complex to leave to one agency alone. This dialogue was particularly timely, since the NCIPR is set to recalibrate its 20172022 Action Plan on IP Rights Enforcement in the next month. The plan, originally introduced in 2016, outlines an action plan to promote IP protection in the Philippines through government coordination and initiatives.

Maria Trinidad Villareal (Carag, Jamora Somera & Villareal, the Phillipines), shared her first-hand experience with administrative enforcement with the IEO. Her talk was followed by an open discussion on anticounterfeiting enforcement issues in the country.

A recurring theme emerging from the dialogue was the need for a continued multi-agency approach to the enforcement of IP rights and the need for a “whole government” approach, which would include educating consumers through IP programs in school curriculums and teaching the next generation of consumers about the harms of counterfeit products through programs such as INTA’s Unreal Campaign (which has successfully reached nearly 40,000 students directly since its launch in 2012) .

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

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