THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) said it is in talks with Facebook, Inc. to develop a process for policing counterfeit items being sold on the platform.

IPOPHL said online sales of counterfeit goods surged during the lockdown, with the office receiving 135 intellectual property violation reports in the first nine months, topping the total from the five years to 2019 by some 4%. Most of the complaints involved counterfeiting and piracy.

In a virtual interview on Dec. 11, IPOPHL Deputy Director General Teodoro C. Pascua said that major e-commerce platforms have been cooperating with IPOPHL to address intellectual property infringement, but the office also has to address sales from individuals on lesser-known platforms and social media.

“Facebook is accepting complaints. It will also help them populate an artificial intelligence (database). Every time that we complain that there are certain accounts violating their standard of conduct, then they will be able to close them down,” he said.

“Facebook apparently is open to discussing certain protocols with brand owners,” he added, noting that the platform could shut down the sale of counterfeit products by evaluating their likely genuineness from prices on offer.

IPOPHL has also started talks with financial technology platforms like GCash in relation to deterring IP violations.

“We have another meeting with advertisers (to) curtail sources of counterfeiting and piracy (by) disturbing their sources of income, which are advertisements and if they’re being paid through financial intermediaries — banks and payment centers — we will also neutralize it,” Mr. Pascua said.

He said that a pending agreement between brand owners and e-commerce platforms to take down infringing marketers and advertisements could kick in by next year.

IPOPHL, he added, also plans to extend its enforcement powers by the first quarter of 2021, which means that it could take down online posts by directly asking the National Telecommunications Commission.

IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba, in the same interview, said that the 135 reported violations are a symptom of a bigger problem.

“We believe that the reports given to us are just part of the big picture,” he said, adding that the National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights must consolidate reports across various agencies. — Jenina P. Ibañez