USTR watch list omits PH for 3rd yr in a row


THE country’s has sustained an improvement in intellectual property (IP) rights over the past years, and is marking three years out of the US watch list.

The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) noted the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has kept the Philippines out of the Special 301 Watch List this year, which attests to the “gains in IP enforcement in the country.”

This is the third year in a row that the Philippines is not cited as a country that needs to be monitored under the Special 301 Watch List, which the USTR released last month.

The report is an annual review by the USTR and looks at the state of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and enforcement in US trading partners around the world.

“Adopting a holistic and concerted approach in IP enforcement has magnified the results of the efforts done by our partners in government, the members of the National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR), with the active participation of IP rights holders,” Josephine Rima-Santiago, IPOPHL director general, said in a statement over the weekend.

“These concerted efforts kept us moving forward despite the fact that two agencies, IPOPHL and OMB [Optical Media Board] did not have permanent heads of office during most of the period of the USTR 301 review. The work was efficiently and effectively undertaken by those tasked to man the fort, which in the case of IPOPHL was Deputy Director General Allan B. Gepty,” she added.

Countries on the priority watch list are Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine, and Venezuela. Also on list are Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Greece, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Switzerland, and Vietnam.

IPOPHL has initiated partnerships with international private IP organizations—International Trademark Association (ITA) and Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (Bascap)—which develop information materials on counterfeiting and piracy. The materials have been disseminated to high school students involved in IPOPHL’s Young IP Advocates Program.

Santiago said it is important to address issues and concerns in IP enforcement in the digital age.

IPOPHL will continue to implement the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Action Plan on IPR Protection and Enforcement, which aims to improve public education and awareness, capacity building for relevant institutions, enhancing border control measures in more regions.

The action plan also calls for the speedy and quality disposition of IPR cases, policy advocacy, strengthening the legal and policy environment, sustaining domestic and international partnerships, strengthening coordination mechanisms, and endeavors to fill in the gaps on IPR enforcement operations.

IP office will continue to work on the exclusion of the Philippines in the USTR Special 301 Watch List by employing IP enforcement practices according to the standards in the current Asean IPR Strategic Action Plan for 2016-2025, Santiago noted.


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