Sunday, February 2, 2020

EU IP report downgrades Philippines despite uncertainty over enforcement

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The EU has dropped the Philippines from its list of countries involved in trade of counterfeit goods. The European Commission (EC) report showed that the country was removed from the Priority 3 list. The EC reports fewer IP complaints from stakeholders and the relatively higher importance of other countries for EU IP owners. So on the one hand this is good for the Philippines, but on the other it reflects that IP reports, like trade, can sometimes be a zero sum game; that is if others are attracting more IP interest, it counts as a loss. So this does not necessarily mean an improvement, more that EU trade with Philippines isn’t strong. Negotiations for an EU-Philippines trade and investment agreement were launched on 22 December 2015 and have continued off and on since then. 

In recent years the Philippines has improved its enforcement systems, with the NCIPR usually cited as a key breakthrough - see here. However the country still has problems with counterfeit and pirated products. Customs ineffectiveness is an oft cited problem, with the Customs IP recordal system largely ineffective at leading to seizures. 

A key new issue for SE Asian countries is Trump’s trade deal with China, since it has a focus on preventing counterfeiting goods leaving China, as exports. Around 75% of fakes in SE Asia come from China (UK government data).  The EU reported that the Philippines continues to have a healthy trade in fake goods in a number of areas including leather articles, handbags, pharmaceuticals, footwear, games, toys, sports equipment and fake jewelry. However this data is now believed to be very old. 

Meanwhile on the positive side Philippines is one of the leads on enforcement under the 2016-2025 ASEAN IP Action Plan so its IPO continues to be at the forefront of activity in the region.  

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