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Intellectual property violations surge

/ 04:04 AM November 30, 2020

The government saw an unprecedented number of complaints of intellectual property (IP) rights violations in the first nine months of the pandemic, more than the total reports it received in the past five years, the IP agency said.

The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines said in a recent statement that it received a total of 135 IP violation reports as of September, exceeding the total 129 complaints received from 2015 to 2019.

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Thirty-eight percent, or 51 complaints, were IP infringement matters such as two entities having similar marks or the unauthorized use of copyright works. Meanwhile, 32 percent were counterfeit complaints, while the remaining 30 percent were about piracy.

Seventy-nine of the violators accused of counterfeiting and piracy operated online, most of whom—or 53 of them —used Facebook as their platform. Seven violators used Shopee, six used Lazada and three used Youtube, among other online platforms.

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The reports and complaints were received by the IP Rights Enforcement Office (IEO), which has already acted on 108, or 80 percent of the total. Meanwhile, the remaining 27 were in different stages of validation.

IPOPHL Director General Rowel Barba said the IEO will soon forward a draft of proposed updates to the 2013 Rules and Regulations on Enforcement, which the agency will finalize and issue “as soon as practicable.”

“The primary objective of the revision is to add more disruptive enforcement functions to the IEO, such as clearly including online counterfeiting and piracy in its coverage, coordinating with the National Telecommunications Commission to take down IP-rights offending posts and monitor marketplaces proactively based on findings of the IPOPHL, and elevate issues found to IP rights owners,” he said.

Moreover, IPOPHL said it was being consulted in the creation of an agreement between e-commerce platforms and select rights holders for a protocol on the takedown of posts when illicit content or products are sold or posted for sale in their platforms.

“Specifically, through the agreement, a notice and takedown system and procedure will be developed by online platforms to more swiftly address reports on counterfeit goods and pirated materials being sold online. We hope it will be signed soon this year once the remaining issues are resolved,” Barba added.

While lauding online marketplaces for closely cooperating with the agency, IPOPHL said the surge in complaints showed the need to impose more policies that could effectively prevent counterfeiters and pirates from exploiting IP rights.

One measure seen to improve the commerce environment, and which the IPOPHL said it strongly supported, was the solidary liability pushed in the Internet Transactions Bill or House Bill No. 6122. The IPOPHL is also keen on supporting the version of this bill before the Senate.

The adoption of a solidary liability principle would put platforms and service providers entirely accountable for the infringing acts of their client-sellers, IPOPHL said. INQ

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TAGS: Business, intellectual property (IP), Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines
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