Monday, March 11, 2013

Philippines landlord liability

 A new Philippines law, RA 10372, amending certain copyright provisions of the IP Code, was signed into law last 28 February 2013. It introduced, among other things, a basis for liability of landlords (such as mall owners) for the infringing activities of their tenants. Until now, IP owners can only take action against the owners of shops that directly commit copyright infringement.

Under Section 20 of RA 10372, amending Section 216 of the IP Code, a person (such as a landlord/mall owner) is liable for infringement if he (1) benefits from the infringing activity; (2) has been given notice of the infringing activity; and (3) has the right and ability to control the activities of the person committing the infringement.

If a complainant is able to show that all the elements above are present, landlords and mall owners may now be liable for copyright infringement under the IP Code.  Often landlords will have such liability where an IP holder has notified them through a warning letter, or cc of such. There may be questions around the benefit he obtains, but if the infringement is substantial the rent might suffice to amount to that. Modern commercial leases usually do enable landlords to exercise a level of control.

With this amendment IP owners have an added avenue to protect their rights against infringers at least in high end retail areas. However this only protects copyright works as that was the scope of the amendments.

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