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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Customs training in the Philippines

Customs Training is essential to support a Customs IP border protection system. Where a recordal system is in place and Customs have authority to stop shipments ex officio and inspect them, they need to know how to spot fake goods. Thus IP holders routinely get together to conduct training programs about their brands and products for Customs.

The IPR Business Partnership is conducting a Counterfeit Identification Training course for front line officers in Cebu, Republic of the Philippines on 29/30 October 2012. A group of IP holders will be there providing information their brands, product identification techniques and profile raising so Customs can target shipments for them.

This is one side of the coin, the other is that Customs must also have risk assessment techniques in place to spot suspect shipments. Many fakes enter the Philippines by sea from China. But Philippines Customs is not yet as robust as it could be. Very few ex officio interceptions are made at the border. Instead Customs Philippines prefer to let goods enter then occasionally they seize them for duty evasion, and if the goods appear to be fake report it to IP holders. There is a suspicion that this is a cover for ways to extort extra fees from shippers.

It is a catch 22 for IP holders. The trademark recordal system is in place. Customs need to be encouraged to seize more, at the border and training is the only way IP holders can do this. But Customs also need to make the seizures at the border (not inland), to encourage IP holders to engage.

Lets hope that making more ex officio seizures at the borders goes on the list of tasks the Philippines wants to agree with USTR here.

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