Oliver Bugarin 4 0 0 8 min to read

More robust intellectual property protections

This time, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPhl) is expecting that Congress would be able to pass the proposed changes to the Philippine Intellectual Property Code.

House Bill 2672, introduced by Rep. Christopher de Venecia, is essentially the same as the one he previously filed. HB 2672 is still being discussed by the trade committee.

The measure aims to strengthen government efforts against piracy and counterfeiting, embrace some of the most recent best practices in the worldwide community, and respond to technological advancements since the IP Code’s previous modification.

The most significant changes include returning the copyright registration and deposit function to the IPOPhl from the National Library and the Supreme Court, balancing rights in commission, and recognizing non-visible marks and certification marks as trademarks. They also include acknowledging extended collective licenses, including orphan works (those still protected by copyright but whose author or the right holder is unknown or cannot be located), and extended collective licenses.

But first, let’s look at the rules controlling the IPOPhl, the organization in charge of upholding IP rights, and the laws of the IP Code before I talk about the specific proposed changes for copyright, trademarks, and patents.

The bill gives the director general of the IPOPhl the authority to issue temporary and permanent takedown orders or cease-and-desist orders to internet service providers, domain name registries and registrars, website owners, online intermediaries, online platforms, and social media platforms as part of injunctive reliefs or as a relief granted to address alleged violations of IP rights. It also grants the director general the authority to hold those in contempt who disobey orders or writs issued.

As long as there are no pending legal proceedings, the Office of the Director General’s Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement and Coordination group will have jurisdiction over administrative complaints regarding the production, offering for sale, and sale of counterfeit goods and content, as well as the sale, offering for sale, streaming, and broadcasting of these pirated goods and content to the general public.

The IPOPhl DG has the authority to impose fines ranging from P100,000 to P1 million, plus an additional P5,000 fine for each subsequent day that the infraction persists.

The law also proposes giving the Bureau of Copyright and Related Rights initial jurisdiction to settle copyright and related rights issues, with the exception of those that fall under the purview of the Bureau of Legal Affairs (BLA). The Bureau of Copyright’s authority is now restricted to addressing disputes relating to copyright protection rules.

The BLA’s legal authority will also be increased. According to the proposal, it will have jurisdiction over petitions for declaration of ownership or having the right to intellectual property or having the right to IP and petitions for declaration of revocation of such declaration in the case of patents.

Additionally, it would have original and exclusive jurisdiction over administrative complaints alleging infringement of intellectual property rights. However, this will still only apply to complaints in which the total amount of damages sought exceeds P200,000. The aforementioned bureau would also have the authority to levy fines ranging from P5,000 to P10,000.

Some excellent news for inventors about patents A provisional patent or interim application will be permitted under the proposed legislation, giving the applicant priority under the first-to-file rule. The aforementioned provisional patent application will remain private and not be made available in the IPOPhl Gazette.

The term of a patent will remain be 20 years beginning on the application filing date, with the exception that if the invention was first submitted under a provisional patent application, the protection period will start on the provisional application filing date.

The bill aims to broaden the scope of what can be registered as trademarks or service marks for marks, allowing for the registration of non-visual indicators like sound marks as long as they can distinguish between a company’s products or services.

Additionally stated as a reason for a mark’s non-registrability is its lack of uniqueness.

Those who allow the use of their properties for sale, offering for sale, manufacturing, or distribution of infringing counterfeit or pirated goods or content will also be held jointly and severally liable if they profit or benefit from the infringement unless the landlord can demonstrate that he had no knowledge of the fact and had no involvement in the tenants’ infringement.

The current edition of the IP Code regards actions taken by landlords who profit from copyright infringement, are aware of it, and have the authority to control it as copyright violations. The absence of a comparable clause in the event of trademark infringement explains why only tenants selling goods bearing infringing trademarks are subject to legal action, not lessors or mall and store owners.

Internet service providers, owners of websites, and operators of online and social media platforms are all subject to a similar solidary liability whenever illegal, fake, or pirated goods are offered for sale to the general public unless they can demonstrate that they were unaware of the violation and did not take part in it.

In the case of copyright, the measure aims to implement the so-called freedom of panorama, which will prevent the accidental inclusion of works protected by copyright in artistic works from being seen as a violation of copyright. Therefore, even if a filmmaker or photographer occurs to capture a copyrighted work—such as a building—in the background of a future project without the owner’s consent or payment of royalties, they are not required to do so.


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