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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Civil IP disputes in the Philippines

 IP Komodo has long been a fan of the Philippines IPO's Bureau of Legal Affairs' Administrative litigation jurisdiction. This was set up around 10 years back in order to remedy the deficiencies in the court system for civil IP disputes. IP cases take too long in the civil courts and most get appealed up to the Supreme Court (so can take a decade to get a final decision). Various efforts to reform the civil courts for IP have failed because the court system lends itself to tactical litigation, which means defendant lawyers can easily challenge and delay cases.
 
So the IPO set up the BLA to hear IP disputes. The vast majority of the approximately 700 cases they heard in 2012 were trademark oppositions or cancellations. The judges are senior examiners, but have all round IP expertise. The net result is that the BLA is now attracting different kinds of IP cases. They take a year or so to be tried and can unfortunately still be appealed to the High Court then the Supreme Court. But at least first instance is fast, efficient and heard by an IP expert.
 
The statistics for the first half of 2013 tell a good story: The chart left shows all the infringement cases (i.e. excluding trademark oppositions, cancellations etc). The result is a broadly fair analysis of the type of commercial infringement problems in the Philippines. Trademarks are the largest proportion, perhaps overweight. Designs and Patents cases are however a good number.
 
Perhaps the best conclusion from this is that the IPO takes a strong lead in developing solutions for the IP industry, whereas the court system is not as motivated to fix itself.

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