THE Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) said it will seek to revive courts specializing in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) cases, amid a surge in counterfeiting and with regular courts busy prosecuting illegal drug cases.

“We’re seeking an audience with the Chief Justice [Lucas P.] Bersamin, to be able to see if we can still come up with separate IP courts,” IPOPHL Deputy Director-General Teodoro C. Pascua said in an interview with BusinessWorld in Quezon City earlier in April, adding that he hopes the meeting can take place within the month.

He noted that courts specializing in IPR cases used to be a feature of the judiciary but fell into disuse due to lack of cases. They were eventually merged with commercial courts.

Kahit isa lang within a region that’s fine with us kasi nagpapile-up na rin ang counterfeiting cases natin (Even one court per region is fine with us because counterfeiting cases are piling up)” Mr. Pascua added, noting he hopes such courts can be re-established this year “so we can get convictions.”

He said data on IPR cases filed with the trial courts are still being finalized.

At the prosecution level, the total caseload related to IPR violations rose 44.15% in 2017 to 937, according to the Department of Justice’s (DoJ) National Prosecution Service.

Of the cases in 2017, 69% were resolved, up 29% from a year earlier.

The total filings with prosecutors increased to 477 in 2017, from 166 a year earlier.

IPOPHL’s Mr. Pascua added that the surge in illegal drugs cases, now “crowding the dockets,” are preventing further movement of other cases.

In 2017, pending drug-related cases at the SC totaled 722, up 47.65% from a year earlier; at the Court of Appeals 2,207, up 31.92%; and at lower courts, 254,633, up 24.33%.

Mr. Pascua also put forward the agency’s alternative dispute resolution services which allow for mediation and arbitration at the executive level instead of going through the courts.

“Were campaigning that etong mga may ari ng intellectual property rights (IPR owners) will consider an administrative track (instead of criminal prosecution). Or kung civil (if they pursue civil litigation), sometimes they also go to courts. But we’re campaigning for practitioners to go to IPO because we have administrative and civil remedies. We also have the power to fine,” Mr. Pascua added.

IPOPHL will conduct this year an arbitration workshop to train at least 40 arbitrators within the year to expedite resolution of IPR cases. — Janina C. Lim