Bienvenido Marquez III, a Manila-based partner at Quisumbing Torres, a member firm of Baker McKenzie, shares insights on the importance of IP awareness and upholding brand value
Q: What are the main challenges for companies to protect their IP rights in the Philippines?
A: The main challenge of Philippine companies, especially the SMEs, would be a lack of education as far as IP is concerned. In the Philippines, intellectual property is not really taught in primary or secondary schools. There might be some electives at college or in law schools, but it’s not really incorporated in the educational system of the Philippines, which is why the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has a number of educational programmes to reach out to students, as well as to SMEs, to educate them on the value of IP.
Incidentally, INTA has a lot of educational programmes as well. I would like to highlight the Unreal Campaign, where INTA reaches out to students at high school and college levels. Our firm has been very active in helping INTA in these reach-out projects. In fact, over the past several years, we have launched several Unreal Campaigns in the Philippines in various high schools and universities.
Q: What can we take away from the passed bill to amend the IP Code, which seems to focus on battling online privacy?
A: For the past 20 years, I have been working on addressing copyright infringements, including online piracy. This development from the House of Representatives is welcome news for brand owners and copyright owners to address online piracy, as it provides the IPO with the power to co-ordinate and block access to infringing materials online. It will make it easier for copyright holders to co-ordinate with the IPO for them to proceed and address the blocking of these sites immediately.
This requires the co-operation of all internet service providers (ISPs). Presumably, an ISP should act quickly whenever the IPO receives a complaint and comply with the orders of the IPO to block the infringing content.
Q: Now that covid-19 is no longer considered a global emergency, looking back, what can the IP sector learn from the experience?
A: Firstly, everyone should be prepared for the unexpected.
Looking back at what happened with the Philippines, we immediately implemented lockdowns and fortunately, we were 100% ready online. Even if we were working from home, the entire firm was able to deliver seamless support to our clients across all practice groups, including our IP and data technology practice group.
Additionally, we realised that companies should always be ready for potential acquisitions or mergers to avoid being caught off guard. They must ensure that their brand and IP maintain high value, which requires protection across all IP, such as trademarks, patents, copyrights and trade secrets. This will help ensure that in case of an acquisition or merger, the value of the company will be what they want for their organisations.
Q: In your daily practice, do you employ any tools or legaltech that you find helpful and recommendable?
A: In our firm, we have always used data or a database to ensure that we capture all data, without any errors or issues. We have been doing this for 20 years. Now, we realise that data is enormous, and we need to be able to manage and harness it for the benefit of our firm and clients. We also recognise that we are in the era of machine learning, which is constantly being developed. As a law firm, our biggest challenge is to ensure that we can use this advantage and harness the benefits of machine learning for our clients.
Currently, we have a committee dedicated to learning more about this technology. We don’t see it as a challenge, but rather something that we have to learn and embrace because it will ultimately benefit our firm and clients. We are continuously developing machine learning and AI internally, which will eventually be incorporated into our daily processes to make it easier and more efficient for the firm and beneficial to our clients.