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Friday, October 7, 2011

Philippines Customs Bureau and counterfeit goods


ABS-CBN the news network reports that the Philippines Bureau of Customs (BOC) has filed charges at the Department of Justice (DOJ) against 2 importers of counterfeit products. The charges are for violations of the Tariff and Customs Code and the Intellectual Property Code. They were filed against Graciano Tumabat and Joseph Espiritu, proprietor and customs broker, respectively, of Sarae Trading, which was found to have imported P5 million worth of counterfeit speakers branded as genuine Konzert brand speakers. Also charged were Joel Macaraeg and Carlos Dacaymant, proprietor and customs broker, respectively, of Multikarat Enterprises which allegedly imported fake Energizer brand batteries amounting to P7 million in value.

Customs in the Philippines are not terribly effective at stopping counterfeit goods at the border. While there is a recordal system and procedure for seizures and even an IP Unit at the BOC, seizures are few and far between. On occasions seizures are made inland, where fake goods are traced to a warehouse. That can lead to the goods being secured and accessible to IP holders. But few prosecutions ever complete in IP cases in the Philippines due to the delays at the DoJ and trials. See here for earlier posts on the trial system.

IP Komodo's favorite comment in the news reports is that 'one of the biggest challenges of his (BOC) team is to monitor scalawags inside and outside' the BOC. The general suspicion is that Customs target those who haven't cleared the (ahem) 'correct' procedures. So until Customs becomes a more effective operation generally IP holders shouldn't hope for too much in the way of improvements.

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