• IPR rights pushed to support innovation

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    The Intellectual Property Office of the Philip-pines (IPOPHL) has vowed to protect intellectual property rights and encourage innovation in the country moving forward as a part of its drive to boost the Philippines’ standing in the Global Innovation Index (GII) by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

    In a briefing on Friday, IPOPHL Director General (DG) Josephine Rima Santiago said it has recently formed an advisory council that will push for the country’s awareness and drive towards intellectual property and innovation.

    “We want our services and programs to be known. And we also want to fast track and leap frog the country into innovation . . . As of now [2015], our ranking in [Global Innovation Index] competitiveness is [at the]83rd [place]among the 141 countries. It is 17 notches higher,” Santiago said.

    “We’re waiting for the 2016 index, which was supposed to be released two weeks ago. But we’re still waiting. We’re hoping to improve our rankings,” she added, refusing to give specific index targets and citing that the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will be the main agency in charged of innovation and inventions.

    She mentioned the newly formed advisory council would help into advocating a culture of protecting IPRs and boosting innovation in the country.

    The council, Santiago said, involves eight member representatives from the DOST, Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and private sector members in the field of social media and film making in order to educate Filipinos on the importance of IPR, innovations and inventions.

    “We’re pushing for the increase of the patent findings in universities and DOST…We want to have something that would encourage creative outputs, and make people aware of their capacity through informing the youth. We also want to evaluate other countries which are doing well like Japan and Korea,” the IPOPHL director general said.

    In terms of infringement or cancellation cases, IPOPHL said there were a total of 643 cases logged in 2015, which is higher than the 595 cases in 2014. The 2015 cases comprise of 26 IP violation (IPV) or infringement cases, while balance of 617 were inter-partes cases (IPC) or cancellation cases that not necessarily meant infringement but would restrict a group or individual to use a part of an existing brand to avoid association of different entities.

    As a part of its drive to boost IP protection in the country, Santiago said IPOPHL has committed since last year to a “Backlog Reduction Program” where the stock of cases since 2010 are immediately attended to and eventually bring to conclusion.

    Due to the program, IPOPHL has already “disposed” or concluded some of IP cases, increasing its tally to 551 concluded cases in 2015 from 510 and 539 solved cases in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

    “We expect this to rise or even double by the end of the year,” Santiago said, referring to the disposed IPV and IPC cases.

    IPOPHL also saw a rise in patent applications over the years, signifying an increase in innovations and inventions in the Philippines. The office said a total of 3,340 applied for patent in 2015, 3,290 in 2014, and 3,089 in 2013.

    Santiago said a new invention, product or idea should be patented within one year to be give credits, rights and exclusivity to the owner. Failure to do such within one year will allow the invention, product or idea to be open to public—whether published or not.

    She added that through the Innovation Technology and Support Services program, IPOPHL will engage in “capacity building for universities to do patent search, patent drafting and commercialization” in line with the drive to protect IP in the country.

    Intensified seizure of counterfeit goods

    Aside from protecting intellectual property rights and boosting innovations, IPOPHL is also involved in the lessening, if not exterminating, of counterfeit goods in the Philippines.

    Together with National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Philippine National Police (PNP), the IPOPHL said total seized goods already reached P2.817 billion in the first five months of the year which is comprised of counterfeit watches from warehouses in Manila and Baclaran.

    Santiago clarified that the amount of the seized counterfeit goods translate to the actual market value of the products’ original versions.

    Such would explain the fluctuating value of seized counterfeit goods over the years as it depends on the amount and value of the goods which were confiscated, she said. In 2015, the NCIPR logged P2.16 billion worth of seized counterfeit goods, while a huge P13.32 billion worth of goods were confiscated in 2014, as well as P7.8 billion in 2013, P5.2 billion in 2012, P8.3 billion in 2011, and P5.29 billion in 2010.

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