THE Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) on Monday recommended the drafting of a law that will protect the intellectual property (IP) of indigenous people.

IPOPHL Director of the Bureau of Copyright and Related Rights Emerson G. Cuyo said there were “gaps” in the current IP system.

“We have expressed our observation that in fact there are gaps in the present or existing IP system, particularly with its emphasis on the exclusivity of intellectual property rights,” Mr. Cuyo said at a Senate Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship committee hearing.

“So our recommendation is to draft or devise sui generis a law or protection for our indigenous people. IPOPHL is willing to assist in the formulation of the proposed bill in this particular regard,” he added.

Senator Maria Imelda Josefa R. Marcos had inquired about how to register cultural assets belonging to an entire ethnic community as they “come down through the ages.”

She noted that there is a limitation in the definition of intellectual property under the law, adding that such property of indigenous people should be held “in perpetuity.”

Ms. Marcos said the National Center for Culture and the Arts and the country’s design center could help the indigenous people register their intellectual property, citing the “Sarimanok” in Mindanao which is a part of that region’s heritage, “without restricting or stifling creative juices at the same time, making certain that the commercialization will also be viable.”

Mr. Cuyo also noted that the present copyright law covers protection for contemporary treatments of indigenous cultural expression.

If the supposed inspiration is a property of a community, there has to be “prior informed consent” of the communities prior to registering them as intellectual property of an individual, he said. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas