Tuesday, February 19, 2013

In defence of the Philippines' IPR regime

IPO Director Blancflor
We are used to seeing petitions of complaint about IPR regimes to the US government at this time of the year as part of the USTR's Special 301 Review. The Philippines has been active in recent years, filing its own petitions in defence. This year their petition argues the Philippines should be removed from the Special 301 Watch List.

A number of points are made to support this :- 

- public comments from IP industry publications, certain IP holders and industry groups about IP protection in the Philippines
- the USTR's delisting of certain retail locations as Notorious Markets
- the holding of various anti piracy and IPR events/seminars
- a new procedure manual for enforcement officers
- a new Copyright bill
- the new Cybercrime Prevention Act
- a new bill covering cable and internet signal theft
- the new rules of procedure for IP cases
- the provision of free warehousing for seized fake goods
- the National Law Enforcement Coordination Committee's and IPO's Operation Centre activities to assist in IP coordination
- new penalties to cancel business permits for counterfeiters
They cite raid statistics such as the several thousand search warrants issued in 2012, (although the stats. don't seem to add up clearly), values of goods seized and so on. Those are always doubtful in value when fakes are still widely available. 

There is no doubt that the Philippines government and the IPO in particular has been highly active (one of the most active in the SE Asian region thinks IP Komodo). But they misunderstand the Special 301 Review if they believe a few fixes is what is needed. For example, there are no reported Customs seizures (because Customs seize virtually nothing at the borders). It is still agonizingly slow to get a prosecution case to trial. And getting a raid without requests for money from the authorities, is tough. So while this level of government activity is impressive, there is still an enormous amount to do. 5 years of the kind of progress made in 2012 would make a decent dent in the problem.

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