Divisoria, Greenhills flagged by EU for fake goods sale

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POPULAR shopping malls in the Philippines including Divisoria and the Greenhills Shopping Center have been flagged by the European Commission for offering counterfeit goods, according to the Commission’s latest Counterfeit and Piracy Watch List.

“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.

“According to stakeholders, no police actions are taken,” the report stated.

Meanwhile, the report also noted that shops in Greenhills and Cartimar shopping malls and in particular the stalls located in their vicinity are reported to sell “higher quality” counterfeit goods.

The report also stressed that in April 2022, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) was able to seize more than EUR 1 million or P59.5 million worth of possible counterfeit goods in the Greenhills shopping center coupled with the public pledge to take additional steps to curb down the sale of counterfeits.

According to the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL),  this is the first time that Philippine markets have been cited in the biennial list since its launch in 2018.

IPOPHL also noted that in a watch list named the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy List, Greenhills is the only counterfeiting and piracy “hotspot” identified in the Philippines.

With this, IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba called on the concerned local government units (LGUs) to “fully enforce” the Intellectual Property (IP) Code of 1997 and the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) IP-related issuances.

The agency noted in a statement it issued on Saturday that among the DILG issuances is Memorandum Circular 2020-124 which it said “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.”

Another issuance, IPOPHL said, is Memorandum Circular 2022-055 which DILG has released. The circular directs local offices to adopt their own Anti-Counterfeit and Anti-Piracy policies which will promote “IP respect” in the workplace.

The IPOPHL chief said the agency will soon engage concerned LGUs and shopping mall administrators to enjoin them to help crack down on counterfeiting and piracy. Barba underscored the importance of protecting intellectual property, adding that this conveys good governance.

“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.

In engaging LGUs, there is a need to harp on the importance of how much their localities value one’s hard work and ingenuity in creating innovative brands and products as this can also help attract businesses, Barba explained.

“As competitiveness today is in part characterized by how well a business manages and protects its IP assets, businesses tend to set up shop and bring their employment-generating capital to places that give them the confidence that their IP rights will be robustly protected and defended,” he added.

Moving forward, IPOPHL hopes to hold learning sessions to give sellers a better understanding of the socioeconomic harm 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 stressed.