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IPOPHL seeks exemption from application deadlines

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THE patent office is seeking an exemption from document-processing deadlines prescribed by the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) Law, noting the complexity of the patent evaluation process.

Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) Deputy Director-General Teodoro C. Pascua said a single application represents “a gargantuan accumulation of data” that requires a quasi-judicial process to be examined thoroughly.

“The process is totally different from just a simple transaction, a complex one, or even a highly technical one,” Mr. Pascua said during a briefing last week in Makati City.

Republic Act No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018 requires that all applications or requests should be acted upon by government agencies within three working days, for “simple” transactions and seven working days for “complex” ones.

For “highly technical” transactions or requests “involving activities which pose danger to public health, public safety, public morals [and] public policy,” the prescribed processing time should not exceed 20 working days.

IPOPHL Director-General Josephine R. Santiago said the fastest it has taken the office to approve a patent was two years.

Asked what will happen if IPOPHL does not meet the law’s deadlines, Mr. Pascua said it will have no choice but to make a decision.

“We approve or deny it. After 20 days, deny… we will not do our function anymore,” he added.

Under the law, any application that is not acted upon is deemed automatically approved.

But such scenario is what the IPOPHL is seeking to avoid.

“We don’t want to do that,” Ms. Santiago said.

Officials that fail to meet the deadlines face a six-month suspension on first offense. A second offense carries a penalty of one to six years’ imprisonment with a fine of at least P500,000, termination, perpetual disqualification from public office and forfeiture of retirement benefits.

Ms. Santiago said the agency has made several proposals to resolve the issue, including a proposal that gives IPOPHL “flexibility” in performing its duties and allows it to comply with international treaties, which have their own timeline for the review of patent and trademark applications.

The agency, along with others, is going through consultations with the Department of Trade and Industry.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said there is an initial draft of the EoDB law’s implementing rules and regulations, due for release by September.

“Agencies will be enjoined to re-engineer and streamline their processes to meet the requirements of the EoDB,” Mr. Lopez said in a mobile message yesterday. — Janna C. Lim