Monday, July 23, 2018

IP pendency and ease of doing business in the Philippines

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There is a lot of talk right now in SE Asian governments on how to slash bureaucracy, to ease doing business, make countries more attractive to investors. In the Philippines, this leads to an interesting clash with IP.

Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018, is a laudable new law designed to do exactly that. However it has caught the IP Office of guard. IP transactions such as Patent and Trademark examination cannot possibly be done within the timeframes set out in the EODB. The IP Office says its most complex transactions take many months sometimes over a year. However EODB mandates that government departments must complete their transactions within one of 3 time limits depending on the nature of the transaction. The time limits range from 3-20 days. Civil servants who don't comply can be subject to disciplinary action and ultimately fired.

The IP Office complains that its processes are done to international standards and given the need for global prior art searches or trademark similarity analysis, they cannot meet the EODB so are asking to be taken outside its remit.  Whilst this seems reasonable, it is also a serious question, how pendency can be improved. Small businesses not used to IP registration are the best barometer - they usually laugh incredulously when told it can take a couple of years to register a trademark in SE Asia!

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