17 amendments to strengthen intellectual property protection

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    Fake products. Complaints on suspected counterfeiting and piracy surged to 121 in 2020 as the pandemic presented lucrative opportunities for illicit traders. (IPOPHL photo)

    Seventeen priority amendment-proposals have been identified to strengthen intellectual property rights (IPR) protection of the country, according to Rowel Barba, director-general of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL).

    Barba in a statement said the House of Representatives on Tuesday agreed to consolidate the bills that will amend the Intellectual Property (IP) Code of 1998, taking the much-needed modernization of the IP law closer to fruition.

    Barba said IPOPHL proposes imposing steeper fines on infringers; removing the P200,000 damage claim threshold––cases with claims falling below this, usually by micro, small and medium enterprises, cannot be adjudicated; granting IPOPHL the power to order the takedown of websites with infringing material; recognizing its alternative dispute resolution mechanisms as official modes for dispute settlement; and institutionalizing its IP Rights Enforcement Office.

    On amendments to benefit inventors, IPOPHL proposed parallel-protection system through which inventors can register for a patent grant and simultaneously file a utility model (UM) for the same invention.

    Another priority is the provisional patent protection which will give applications immediate protection on the date of filing.

    The proposed amendments also include alignment of the “industrial design” definition with the multilateral Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement and protection of partial designs or designs that make part of a certain product or article.

    Under the trademark law, new changes proposed are the protection of non-visual marks, such as sound marks, among others, and certification marks, which indicate that a product has met certain standards whether with respect to origin, material, mode of manufacture or performance.

    On copyright and related rights, Barba said the priority for including clear-cut rules on orphan works; recognizing extended collective licensing, by which collective management organizations can extend the license they issue to works of non-members; expanding the limitations for copyright; and centralizing the registration and deposit of copyright works in IPOPHL to avoid confusion among stakeholders.

    IPOPHL is also pushing for the transformation of one of its units into a Bureau of Innovation and Business Development which will promote the use of IP documents and databases for innovation and creativity pursuits, as well as increase IP commercialization and technology transfer in the country.

    The institutionalization of its IP Academy, the national center for IP learning, skills training and research, is also part of the priority list.