President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo lauded the government agencies involved in protecting and promoting intellectual property rights (IPR) as a critical component in the country’s socio-economic development by raising the level of competitiveness of Philippine business.
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) removed the Philippines from the priority watch list in February during its out-of-cycle review. “The Philippines bolstered implementation of its special legislation that was passed to stop illegal production of pirated optical discs. The Philippine government also measurably improved coordination of government agencies responsible for IPR enforcement,” the review stated.
In addition, the European Commission’s IPR enforcement survey listed the Philippines as a low priority country. The survey assessed the state of IPR infringements and how the violations are addressed as a guide for European businesses. Respondents from the Philippines noted that “improved coordination of the groups responsible for IPR enforcement, and an increased number of raids of production facilities and retail establishments” as one of the achievements in IP in recent years.
The memorandum from the Office of the President was addressed to the heads of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Education (DepEd); the Press Secretary and; the Director General of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IP Philippines).
The President added, however, that there is still a pressing need to sustain the gains from the past year and a half (2005 to 2006). Some of the directives include:
• Continue to provide the Executive and the Legislative with policy and legislative proposals in order to update the country’s intellectual property laws, ensuring that these are in compliance with the country’s existing international obligations embodied in treaties and other agreements;
• The DTI, through the IPO, shall continue to coordinate inter-agency efforts against piracy and counterfeiting, maintain a database and enforcement monitoring system, consolidate information and reports from other agencies, and submit quarterly progress reports to the President, and provide copies to the Executive Secretary and the Cabinet Secretary;
• Intensify regular and effective (a) raids and “spot” inspections on factories that produce illegal optical discs, trademarked and copyrighted goods, (b) seizure and destruction of pirated and counterfeited goods and equipment used to produce them, and (c) arrests and prosecutions leading to deterrent level sentences served;
• Maintain appropriate coordination with the Judiciary in ensuring that courts are adequately skilled in intellectual property cases, and in consultation with the Judiciary and Congress, explore the designation or creation of Special Intellectual Property and International Trade Courts.