PH still saddled with IPR issues, says US agency

By: Riza T. Olchondra, May 2nd, 2013 09:39 PM

The Philippines remains on the US watch list of countries with “underlying IPR (intellectual property rights) problems,” according to a US Trade Representative (USTR) report.

The problems are said to include unauthorized camcording of motion pictures in theaters and Internet piracy.

USTR is the agency responsible for developing and coordinating US international trade, commodities and direct investment policies.

The Philippines already promulgated specialized IPR procedural rules that were designed to improve judicial efficiency in IPR cases, the USTR said in its report.

But the United States still expects the Philippines to address piracy over the Internet, “with respect to notorious online markets,” the report said.

The Philippines just got off the US list of “notorious markets” for pirated products in December 2012. The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines said that the Philippines should have been off the watch list earlier. But every year, the US would change the IPR requirements. As a result, the Philippines got to address issues that no longer counted in the succeeding review periods of the US trade agency.

Ricardo R. Blancaflor, director-general of the Philippine Intellectual Property Office, said that “just like in the past, vigorous efforts have been made to address enforcement of IPR by the law enforcement agencies of the country. Even the 2013 Report recognizes the efforts of the Philippine government. So, we cannot understand why we have been retained on the ordinary watch list.”

In an emailed statement, Blancaflor also said the USTR appeared to have no intention of removing the Philippines from the watch list.

He added that, with the Philippines still on the list, he hopes that local law enforcement agencies “will not be discouraged … and will work harder in fighting piracy and counterfeiting.”

In the same report, USTR also cited a “significant decline” in the incidence of unauthorized camcording of motion pictures in Philippine theaters following the enactment of the Anti-Camcording Act of 2010.

“Philippine officials also improved enforcement efforts, leading to the closure of at least two significant notorious markets. In addition, the Philippine Supreme Court promulgated long-awaited IPR procedural rules in 2011,” USTR said.

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