IPOPHL chief assures ‘predictable, harmonized’ IP rules under RCEP


As the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) recently entered into force, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) said it looks forward to a “regional value chain” of innovation and creativity built firmly on transparency, efficiency and cooperation.

IPOPHL said Chapter 11 or the Intellectual Property (IP) Chapter of RCEP, which it negotiated, “affirms the imperative to reduce impediments to trade and investment through the effective and adequate creation, utilization, protection and enforcement of IP rights.”

Further, the country’s IP office noted that this chapter “recognizes members’ different levels of economic development and capacity; differences in national legal systems; and the need to maintain appropriate balance between rights of IP right holders and the legitimate interests of users and the public interest; and a transparent IP system that helps provide confidence to right holders, among others.”

According to IPOPHL, Filipino IP owners and rights holders doing business in any of the RCEP member-countries could be “assured of more harmonized and predictable” rules and practices as RCEP members commit to ratify and accede to key international agreements on IP.

This, the agency noted, ensures the protection of the IP rights of Filipinos outside of the Philippines, particularly in countries signatory to the mega trade deal.

IPOPHL stressed that even prior to the entry into force in the Philippines of the RCEP Agreement, it had been preparing and already improving its services.

“Aside from completing accession and ratification of key international treaties on IP, we have streamlined our procedures, provided reliable e-services in IP administration, built a transparent IP system and continue to strengthen IP enforcement both in the physical markets and in the digital environment,” IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba said in a statement on Thursday.

Moving forward, Barba said IPOPHL is hoping to use various provisions to the agency’s advantage, such as the Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge, and Folklore (Article 11.53), which he said is a “unique feature” for a free trade agreement.

“With the rich indigenous, cultural, and environmental resources, the Philippines is blessed with the protection of genetic resources, traditional knowledge, and folklore has been an offensive interest for the Philippines even at the very start of the negotiations,” the IPOPHL chief said.

Barba said that it is “crucial” for the country that there is recognition of the need to protect and adequately safeguard the community intellectual rights of the Philippine indigenous and cultural communities, as well as their ownership over products sacred to their culture and communal identity.

As RCEP “puts emphasis” on cooperation, IPOPHL said it will “step up to the plate.”

“We will come to our new partners’ aid in complying with their commitments and finding the best protection and enforcement measures appropriate for their innovative and economic needs. We will impart our best practices and help transform the region into a model for using IP judiciously and flexibly while cognizant of the rules-based trading system,” Barba emphasized.