Govt insists RP should be out of intellectual property watchlist

Published by rudy Date posted on March 5, 2009

The Philippine government’s recent efforts to intensify intellectual property (IP) protection in the country should be enough for the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to remove the country from its Special 301 report watch list, an Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IP Philippines) official said.

“[The Philippines] deserves to be removed from [Special 301’s Ordinary Watch List]. We should have a good chance, as long as there is an objective evaluation and realistic perspective,” Adrian Cristobal Jr., IP Philippines director general, said.

The official said there has been improvement in IP law enforcement activities and IP Philippines data showed that the value of counterfeit goods confiscated by the National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR) has been increasing by 52 percent yearly since 2005.

Around P9-billion worth of fake items were seized from 2005 to 2008, he added.
IP Philippines also reported that NCIPR member-agencies such as the Bureau of Customs, National Bureau of Investigation, Optical Media Board and Philippine National Police, last year confiscated a total of P3.5-billion worth of fake goods, up 17 percent compared with 2007.

The USTR is due to release this report in April.

“This is still the period of submitting comments to the USTR. As always, varied stakeholders publish their stand on whether we should stay in the Watch List. Some stakeholders even opine that we should not be in that list, at all, which is really a validation of how we are improving our IP regime,” Cristobal said.

Since 2005, the Philippines has been in the “Ordinary Watch List” of the annual Special 301 report. Countries in this watch list are those the USTR perceives to have problems with IP protection and enforcement that requires bilateral talks or attention.

Last month, the International Intellectual Property Alliance, a lobby organization composed of groups in the US movie, publishing and software industries, reported that the USTR recommended that the Philippines should be elevated to Special 301’s Priority Watch List.

Countries in the “Priority Watch List” are those that do not provide sufficient IP rights (IPR) protection or enforcement of laws protecting IPR or market access for persons relying on IP. According to USTR, the governments of these countries are seen be lacking in political will to effectively address IPR-related concerns hence, they should be monitored closely.

Special 301 recommends US-imposed trade barriers or sanctions for its trade partners that are deemed having insufficient IP protection.
— Ben Arnold O. de Vera, Manila Times

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