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Online sellers warned against sale of fake products

A government agency wants to take down websites if their sellers peddle fake products after the growing online marketplace has become a “big threat” to intellectual property rights.

This will be done through an amendment of the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, which was passed in the late 1990s.

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Ipophl Director General Josephine Santiago said in a recent interview that the amendment would essentially “take down websites that violate [the IP code].”

“In a physical market, you could look at the products that would be placed in your supermarket or outlet [store]. But when [the transaction] is done online, how will [e-commerce companies] see that?” she said.

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This developed as e-commerce has become a popular option in the Philippines, giving Filipinos an easier way of buying goods without the hassle of having to endure long hours of traffic.

Online retailers are already drawing big crowds, luring them with huge sales especially this holiday season. The continued growth even pushed the local unit of online retailer Lazada to expand its warehouse space by 2021.

Deputy Director General Teodoro Pascua said that IPOPHL wanted companies to have an IP policy stating that they would be responsible for the genuineness of the products they release.

Santiago said that IPOPHL could not tell e-commerce firms to screen the products that get sold in their online marketplace.

“Until there is a law, we cannot force them because that’s their business,” she said.

The country is a robust market for e-commerce. According to research by Malaysia-based iPrice Group, Lazada had the highest monthly visits in the fourth quarter of last year, reaching more than 82 million web visits.

Its closest competitor, Shopee, ranked second with more than 8.6 million web visits a month.

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“It’s an opportunity for others, but it’s a big threat to intellectual property,” Santiago said.

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