MSMEs urged to protect intellectual property

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    Businesses and the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are encouraged to protect their intellectual property (IP) rights to gain an advantage in “innovation race” amid the fourth industrial revolution.

    Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez underscored the importance of IP in business in protecting the rights of the brands, trademarks, and inventions.

    “MSMEs need to understand the source of the value and brand of their business, which may cost them billions if these are unprotected,” he said.

    Lopez noted the Philippines’ filings for IP protection, which provides a picture of the country’s degree of regard for the IP system, increases every year.

    In 2018, applications for patent grew 28 percent year-on-year to 3,962; utility models surged 54 percent to 2,131; industrial design rose 9 percent to 1,522; and trademarks climbed 18 percent to 35,666, he said.

    The trade chief pointed out an effective and balanced IP system is critical to encourage and incentivize the development of innovations, as well as to attract foreign direct investments (FDIs).

    He particularly cited his department’s flagship program for innovation –the Inclusive Innovation-led Industrial Strategy (i³S) seeking to attract businesses and investments to the country and focusing on priority sectors, namely manufacturing, agriculture, and services.

    “It also aims to see Filipinos’ ideas and innovations contribute to high value-added activities in regional and global value chains. Moreover, i³S recognizes IP as a key element in creating and enabling an inclusive innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem,” he added.

    Lopez bared that a new category called “innovation drivers” has been included among the list of preferred activities that may avail of incentives under the Board of Investment’s (BOI) Investment Priorities Plan (IPP).

    “The use of new technologies as well as the shift to Industry 4.0 technologies are among the criteria proposed in selecting industries and activities to be included under the Strategic Investment Priority Plan (SIPP),” he added.

    As the government promotes the importance of IP in business, Lopez said they are determined to ensure that the institutions that guard IPs are in place and functioning properly.

    “We want to remove constraints that would lessen investments and would discourage research and development (R&D) and innovation, like placing price controls on pharmaceutical products,” he added. “DTI is a firm defender of consumer rights, but we must also balance the interests and welfare of all stakeholders.”