PHL spared from Europe’s IP rights watch list for 5th year


THE Philippines has remained out of the European Commission’s intellectual property (IP) rights watch list, marking five years since the last mention of the country in 2019, according to the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL).

IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba said this signifies that the Philippines remains an “attractive investment destination to trade partners,” as the country has maintained a “safe” intellectual property climate which he said is “in tune” with global economic standards.

The report, released on May 17, cites “Legal uncertainties and diverging applications of the law, low level of trade secrets protection and enforcements and overall weak IPR enforcement” as the deciding factors of the priority countries.

According to the European Commission, this report is part of its efforts to strengthen the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) in third countries. As such, this type of report is being published biennially or every other year.

“The main objective of this report is to identify third countries in which the state of IPR protection and enforcement [both online and offline] gives rise to the greatest level of concern for the EU and thereby to establish an updated list of so-called ‘priority countries,’” the report published by EC read.

China topped the list as the sole country under “priority one” due to the “persistence” of IP rights violations through piracy and counterfeiting, paired with inconsistent IPR law enforcement and application, IPOPHL noted.

Under “priority two,” the EU Commission flagged India, particularly for the several constraints on patent protection, and Turkey, generally for their gaps in national IP enforcement.

Meanwhile, “priority three” countries consist of Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Thailand, for varying IP protection concerns, IPOPHL said.

Despite the Philippines being delisted from the report, Barba underscored the importance of “going beyond” the exclusion from global watch lists.

The IPOPHL chief said there is “much more work” needed to be done to ensure a “clean and reliable” marketplace for IP rights owners across all nations.

“Since our last mention as a priority three in 2019, we have doubled down our efforts to safeguard our investment attractiveness, a testament to our commitment as a proactive national IP office,” the IPOPHL chief added, assuring the continuity of efforts to keep counterfeiting and piracy at bay.

Meanwhile, IPOPHL said in a statement on Tuesday it continues to initiate anti-counterfeiting and anti-piracy policy (ACAPP) campaigns across local government units (LGUs) and the academe to deepen IP rights awareness, especially among public authorities critical in IP enforcement.

Barba said the agency’s “whole-of-nation” approach to IP enforcement does not only empower the country’s economic landscape. He noted that this also translates to a “prosperous and lasting” relationship with critical trade partners such as the European Union.

In fact, IPOPHL said it has maintained a “fruitful” partnership with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). The cooperation has made significant developments through the continuous capacitation of businesses on IP services, awareness, and enforcement.

“In an effort to boost trade competitiveness, the EUIPO and the Commission have assisted IPOPHL through the IP Key SEA in progressing the country’s geographical indications [GI] mapping via a forum participated by potential GI producers nationwide,” IPOPHL said in a statement on Tuesday.

According to the EU Commission, trade in goods in 2022 between the Philippines and the EU amounted to €18.4 billion, while 2022 bilateral trade in services amounted to €4.7 billion.

In 2021, the EU accounted for 7.9 percent of the Philippines’s total trade, making it the Philippines’s fourth-largest trading partner. On the other hand, the Philippines ranks as the EU’s 39th largest foreign investor, making up for 0.4 percent of the EU’s overall trade.