Philippines steps up efforts to promote IP awareness, protection

By Amanda Carlota, Federis & Associates Law Office
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The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHIL) recently partnered with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to host the Asian Regional Conference in Support of Accelerated Life Sciences. The conference, which was held in Mandaluyong city from 11-15 September, 2023, drew participants from all over Asia and featured talks by life sciences experts from Belgium, Japan, Singapore and the UK.

In the keynote address read by Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo Pascual, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr encouraged the IPOPHIL to continue working with the WIPO and its other partners “to strengthen the country’s IP regime and contribute to our efforts in building the new Philippines”.

He also emphasised the importance of science and technology in nation-building, a movement the government has dubbed “Filipinnovation”.

Amanda Carlota, Federis & Associates Law Office
Amanda Carlota
Associate lawyer
Federis & Associates Law Office

In 2022, the Philippines ranked 59th out of 132 economies in the Global Innovation Index (GII), which is published annually by the WIPO in partnership with the Portulans Institute, various corporate and academic partners, and the GII Advisory Board.

The GII ranks economies’ innovation by measuring several pillars that facilitate innovative activities (e.g. institutions, human capital and research, infrastructure, market sophistication and business sophistication), as well as pillars that result from such innovative activities (e.g. knowledge and technology output, and creative output). President Marcos said that the government aims to elevate the Philippines to the top third of all GII-ranked economies by 2028.

This objective dovetails with the government’s National Innovation Agenda and Strategy Document (NIASD) 2023-2032, which was approved in June by the National Innovation Council, a policy advisory body composed of 16 department secretaries and seven executive members from the private sector. According to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), the NIASD outlines the government’s plan for improving innovation governance and establishing a dynamic innovation ecosystem.

The IPOPHIL has certainly been doing its part to achieve these goals. At the WIPO’s 64th General Assembly held in Geneva in July, IPOPHIL Director General Rowel Barba discussed his agency’s goal of moving its IP registration services to the cloud by 2024.

Since 2012, the IPOPHIL has been using version 3.x of the IP Administration System developed by the WIPO. Barba acknowledged that it was high time for the agency to upgrade to version 4.0, the most recent edition of IPAS available. To help ease the transition, the WIPO has granted the IPOPHIL access to the test version of the IPAS so that the agency can better prepare for the transition.

Furthermore, just last month, the IPOPHIL opened its 16th satellite office nationwide, in Calapan city in the province of Mindoro Oriental. It is intended to serve the MIMAROPA, or Southwestern Tagalog Region, which also includes the provinces of Mindoro Occidental, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan.

At the opening ceremony, Barba cited the potential of the region’s micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), more than 9,000 of which were assisted by the Department of Trade and Industry as of 2022.

The IPOPHIL’s Bureau of Trademarks has also identified several products from the region as potential geographical indications (GIs) that can be registered and protected under the sui generis (of its own kind) rules and regulations governing GIs that took effect last year.

These include: the ramit woven textile made by the Mangyan indigenous communities in Mindoro Oriental; calamansi (Philippine lime) also from Mindoro Oriental; white marble quarried in Romblon, which is home to the majority of the Philippines’ marble deposits; powdery cookies made from uraro (arrowroot) flour from Marinduque; and kasoy (cashew) nuts from Palawan, which is the Philippines’ “cashew capital”, accounting for over 90% of the country’s annual cashew production.

The IPOPHIL has also stepped up its efforts to educate the general public on copyright and other IP matters. At a book sale held by reading advocacy group Big Bad Wolf in Pasay city, Metro Manila back in June, the agency’s Bureau of Copyright and Related Rights (BCRR) gave free lectures on the basics of copyright and copyright issues regarding artificial intelligence (AI)-generated works, and answered IP-related questions.

At the first Philippine Book Festival held in June, the BCRR signed a memorandum of agreement with the National Book Development Board to promote copyright awareness throughout the country. As a result, the BCRR brought a copyright caravan to the Mindanao leg of the Philippine Book Festival, which took place in Davao in August.

Amanda Carlota is an associate lawyer at Federis & Associates Law Office

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