US keeps Manila on IPR piracy list

Published by rudy Date posted on May 4, 2011

DESPITE inroads in intellectual property rights (IPR) legislation, the Philippines’ anti-piracy efforts were deemed lacking, hence the country remains on the US’ piracy watch list for the sixth year in a row.

In its 2011 Special 301 Report on IPR, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) acknowledged the passage of an anti-camcording law in the Philippines last year.

However, this was not enough to merit Manila’s removal from the watch list, where it has remained since 2006.

“The United States recognizes that in 2010 the Philippines took the important step of enacting legislation to address unauthorized camcording of motion pictures in theaters, and encourages the Philippines to enforce this new law effectively in order to deter the theft of motion pictures. However, despite an increase in enforcement efforts, pirated and counterfeit goods remain widely available in the Philippines,” the USTR said.

“There are reports of transit of illicit labels through other countries . . . including Mexico and the Philippines,” the USTR said, noting that among the trends in piracy and counterfeiting include shipping fake goods separately from labels and packaging to avoid confiscation.

The USTR said Manila “should also enact legislation to amend its copyright law, which has been pending for many years.”

Washington said such a legislation should implement the World Intellectual Property Organization Internet Treaties.”

The USTR also said the Philippine government’s enforcement efforts remain lacking.

“While additional efforts have been made to improve coordination among enforcement officials and to strengthen enforcement powers, the judicial system remains inefficient, with very few criminal IPR cases resulting in convictions over the last decade. In addition, the judiciary’s decisions with respect to provisional measures, in particular on whether to maintain or revoke search and seizure orders, have not been predictable,” the USTR said.

“The United States encourages the Philippines to continue efforts to reform its judicial system, including by designating particular courts to adjudicate civil and criminal IPR cases, and by promulgating specialized IPR procedural rules that would streamline the judicial process for IPR cases,” the USTR said.

The US agency also expressed concern over “amendments to the Patent Law that limit the patentability of certain chemical forms unless the applicant demonstrates increased efficacy.”

The agency included the Philippines among the 19 trading partners it will seek to work with towards strengthening legal regimes and enhancing enforcement against piracy over the Internet.

In an earlier report, the USTR tagged Quiapo in Manila as one of the 33 Internet and physical piracy hot spots.

The annual Special 301 Report recommends slapping trade barriers or sanctions on US trading partners deemed lacking IPR protection.

Washington is among Manila’s leading trade partners, with US exports to the Philippines last year up 27.9 percent year-on-year to $7.4 billion and imports up 17.5 percent to $8 billion in the same period.

Latest data showed that US foreign direct investment in the Philippines reached $5.8 billion in 2009, higher than the $5.6 billion in 2008. –Ben Arnold O. De Vera Reporter, Manila Times

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