IPOPHL wants DTI to regulate SMEs selling on Facebook

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THE Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) is seeking the regulation of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that sell products via Facebook, as part of efforts to protect intellectual property rights.

IPOPHL Deputy Director General Teodoro C. Pascua told reporters on Friday they are working with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to trace intellectual property (IP) violators among online sellers.

“All of us know, in Facebook, i-open mo, may nagtitinda eh. Remember, walang tindahan. But nakatinda, you can contact us, ganyan. Illegal ’yun eh [All of us know that on Facebook you could find sellers. They don’t have stores, but they could sell. That’s illegal],” he said, referring to online sellers of brands under trademark owners.

Mr. Pascua said they had a meeting with Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez a few weeks ago to present the National Intellectual Property Strategy, and his feedback was positive.

While the mechanism has not been finalized, Mr. Pascua said what they want is for online sellers to register their businesses with the DTI, so if they are found without the regulatory documents, they may be removed from Facebook.

Aside from tapping the DTI, Mr. Pascua said they also want help from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to gain authority in asking Facebook to take down illegal sellers.

“We want to have that mechanism where… if for example, Facebook would say we would listen to the Philippines pag sinabi ng NTC nila [if their NTC says so], which is an authorized government agency, we will block it off or cut if off,” he said.

The IPOPHL is the government agency mandated to uphold intellectual property rights in the Philippines. Mr. Pascua said coordination with government agencies and Facebook is important in curtailing the proliferation of IP violations in the online space.

But he also noted a key instrument in enforcing intellectual property rights is the cooperation of trademark owners, who sometimes tend to ignore violations when they are not directly affected.

“The (National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights) will do a representation, but we need the trademark owners to work with us… We’re working for trademark owners to trust the (Intellectual Property Office),” Mr. Pascua said. — Denise A. Valdez