Sunday, November 3, 2013

Philippines enforcement reforms

 The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOP) has got in on the enforcement act. There has been pressure for a number of years to create an alternative to the normal Search Warrant+NBI/PNP raid system. The existing system is slow, prone to corruption and relies on the IP holder doing most of the work, from investigation to preparing the SW and corralling a team of enforcement officers. For some while the IPOP DG has been trying to pull together a new system for IPOP to lead enforcement thereby reducing international complaints about the lack of an efficiently working raid system. 
In October new regulations finally took effect setting up the IPOP's enforcement office. Now a separate division at IPOP can hear and act on IP enforcement complaints. Various enforcement orders or acts can be undertaken, the most important of which is to enter the premises of business establishments which are the subject of a complaint. If IPOP’s authorized personnel, together with a product specialist or IP holder representative, see in plain view counterfeit or pirated goods, this will be noted as evidence and can then form the basis of an administrative action against the business. IPOP may first issue a compliance order before the appropriate administrative action is initiated.
Another important option for IPOP under this new system is, upon receiving a complaint, IPOP may refer the case to the NBI/PNP for a search warrant application. IPOP will then take the lead in following-up enforcement actions against the target and will directly coordinate with the NBI/PNP. The key to this is that it removes the need for the IP Holder to do all the law enforcement agency coordination.

So far first cases have worked. IP Holders report that they still need to do (through their attorneys) a lot of the work, including drafting the SW application. However they do get full NBI/PNP cooperation without delays. 

IP Komodo hopes to see this system develop in its efficiency over time. Of course cases still need to enter the prosecution system but that is a different problem. Getting raids to happen properly is the first step.

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