The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) on Monday, Jan. 16, committed to significantly curb counterfeiting and piracy activities in the local markets flagged by the European Commission in its latest Counterfeit and Piracy Watch List.
The Watch List, published in December 2022, cited the markets of Baclaran and Divisoria, the Greenhills Shopping Center, and the Cartimar Shopping Center.
“Baclaran and Divisoria markets in Manila are reported for offering a wide range of counterfeit goods on retail and wholesale basis, in particular shoes, with some stalls allegedly also running online shops offering counterfeit goods,” the working document noted.
The document also noted reports that the Greenhills and Cartimar shopping malls are selling “higher quality” counterfeit goods. Citing data from the National Bureau of Investigation, the European Commission said that an April 2022 seizure operation in Greenhills alone uncovered 1 million euros (P59.5 million) worth of possible counterfeit goods.
This is the first time that Philippine markets have been cited in the biennial list since its launch in 2018.
In a similar watch list, however, namely the United States Trade Representative’s Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy List, Greenhills is the only counterfeiting and piracy hotspot identified in the Philippines.
IPOPHL director general Rowel S. Barba called on the concerned local government units (LGU) to fully enforce the IP Code of 1997 and the Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) IP-related issuances.
Among the DILG issuances is Memorandum Circular 2020-124 which mandates local offices to issue an ordinance that will allow, among others, the cancellation of business permits and other LGU-issued operational licenses of IP-violating shops.
The DILG has also released Memorandum Circular 2022-055, which directs local offices to adopt their own Anti-Counterfeit and Anti-Piracy Policies which will promote IP respect in the workplace.
Barba said IPOPHL will soon engage with the concerned LGUs and shopping mall administrators to enjoin them in its crackdown against counterfeiting and piracy.
“Clamping down on IP violating activities will be proof of good governance and a strong will to implement the laws of the land,” Barba said.
“How much their localities value one’s hard work and ingenuity in creating innovative brands and products can also serve as an attraction to businesses. As competitiveness today is in part characterized by how well a business manages and protects its IP assets, businesses tend to set shop and bring their employment-generating capital in places that give them the confidence that their IP rights will be robustly protected and defended,” he added.
IPOPHL also hopes to hold learning sessions for sellers to better understand the socio-economic harms of engaging in IP-infringing activities.
“At the end of the day, it is their communities that could reap the long-run economic and social benefits of supporting the effective protection of IP rights, whether in e-commerce or physical markets,” the IPOPHL chief added.