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‘PHL could attract more investments with right IP ecosystem’

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Providing the “right” Intellectual Property (IP) ecosystem could help the Philippines attract more investments, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) said.

“Just not being on the [United States Trade Representative Special] 301 report is huge. A lot of countries we go to that’s the one thing they want to get off because being on the 301 report makes it very difficult to attract foreign investments so that is huge,” Kathi Vidal, Director of USPTO and Undersecretary of Commerce said in a meeting with some members of the Philippine news media on Monday.

However, Vidal emphasized that “doing all the work to not only stay off of it (USTR Special 301 report) but to really combat counterfeiting and piracy is really important.”

Moreover, the USPTO Director said the system is “ripe” right now for foreign investments, citing the efforts being done by the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL).

“The fact that you are not on 301 list, the fact that you are not on 301 list, the fact that you are really committed to IP, creative industries, and you’re putting your legislative power, you’re putting efforts behind it makes it a very ripe area for investments,” Vidal stressed. 

On her first visit to the Philippines, she said she had so far had discussions related to Intellectual Property which zeroed in on “how do we create the right environment for investment.” 

Last April 26, the USTR released its latest Special 301 Report which identified the trading partners of the US that violate intellectual property rights. The 2023 edition of the report indicated that Washington kept the Philippines out of its watch list for the 10th consecutive year.

Following the release of the USTR Special 301 report, IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba issued a statement last April saying, “The country’s continued exclusion from the USTR list of countries with major IP concerns reflects wins from the awareness and regulatory efforts of the IP Office of the Philippines [IPOPHL].”

This achievement, Barba noted, “shows our close coordination with members of the National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR) and other stakeholders and partners as we work to become a greater example to the global IP community.”

The IPOPHL chief also highlighted that the 2023 report mentioned IPOPHL’s IP Colloquium for the Judiciary, which provided training for judges of special commercial courts and organized workshops for law enforcement agents and prosecutors.

“The USTR also recognized IPOPHL’s Raising the Economy by Acquiring Protection of the IP of your Community or REAP IP Program which has engaged over 160 local government units (LGUs)  on IP awareness,” said Barba.

“Our chances in battling with counterfeiting, piracy and all IP rights violations is only as strong as the IP awareness of the nation. This is why we have the utmost gratitude towards our domestic and international cooperation partners for sharing with us their know-how in developing an IP-conscious community,” he added.

Apart from being able to stay out of the Special 301 report of USTR, Vidal recognized Filipinos, saying they are “global citizens who embrace a global perspective with a vibrant and growing creative sector.” 

Moving forward, Vidal said, “I look forward to working more closely with IPOPL and Director General Rowel Barba to address opportunities our two offices see to grow our economies with strong IP systems.” 

She explained that the Philippines’s focus on IP-intensive industries will “drive economic development.” 

For the United States’ part, she said their office found that in “recent years,” IP-intensive industries accounted for 41 percent of the US gross domestic product (GDP) at $7.8 trillion and 47.2 million jobs, or one-third of US employment. 

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