Protection for heritage-related intellectual property pushed
The Philippines’ intellectual property (IP) rights agency has put in place a new registration system for IPs linked to local heritage and reputation, such as the Bicol pili and Guimaras mangos, that eliminates the need for renewal, and possibly fees, for such IPs.
After nearly 20 years of research and multistakeholder consultations, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) said it had finally put in place a sui generis system for geographical indications (GIs), referring to IP rights used on products with qualities or characteristics attributable to a specific place.
Aside from the Bicol pili and Guimaras mangos, other examples include Cordillera heirloom rice and the Lake Sebu T’nalak weaves.
“The GI regulations are part of our continued commitment to the Filipino people, to protect and promote the hard work, passion and creativity that they put into these local agricultural products, food stuffs, handicrafts, and other valuable IP products that are catalysts for our country’s economic development and global prestige,” IPOPHL director general Rowel Barba said in a statement.
“We are now assured of stronger protection and greater value-add to world-class products that make us proud as Filipinos,” he added.
Under the new sui generis system, local products that meet the criteria for GI protection will have a separate registration system because of the unique ways needed to effectively protect them, according to the IPOPHL.
IPOPHL’s Bureau of Trademarks (BOT) will be the primary implementing body of the GI regulations, including the search and examination of applications and the issuance of registration certificates.
BOT Director Jesus Antonio Ros said that the agricultural and handicraft sectors would benefit the most from this measure, which is expected to promote traditional and indigenous Philippine products.
“Sui generis GI registration in the country will accelerate, among many others, efforts to preserve our cultural heritage and identity,” Ros said.
Unlike trademarks where an application is filed by an individual or a single entity, GIs must be registered under an association of producers that are: directly involved in the production, engaged in its trade, or in charge of regulating or protecting GIs.
The IP rights body added that a government agency or local government unit may also be a GI registrant, provided that the origin of the goods is within its area of responsibility.
Indefinite but revocable
The term of GI protection is also indefinite without the need to renew according to the IPOPHL, but cited that the registration can be revoked based on several grounds:
• nonfulfillment of conditions for protection
• change in the geographical origin of the goods, including the natural and human factors
• issuance of a court or tibunal ruling that the identified producer has no effective control over the use of the GI, standards of production of the goods and other product specifications
• GI registration was obtained through false statements and documents during the course of the application
• the registered or protected GI has been proven to be generic or a common or customary name of the goods covered in the Philippines.
Under the new system, the IPOPHL may also give consideration to members of indigenous cultural councils and indigenous peoples, granting a waiver of fees if qualified. INQ
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