THE Intellectual Property Office (IPOPHL) of the Philippines is backing amendments to the two-decade intellectual property code to make penalties tougher and account for the growth of e-commerce.
IPOPHL Director General Josephine R. Santiago, a lawyer, said the agency is proposing to double both the imprisonment period and the fines of those found selling counterfeit goods and infringing copyright laws, while cracking down even more aggressively on those who sell fake goods that “involve public health and public safety.”
She said at a briefing Thursday in Makati City that a draft proposal prepared by IPOPHL involves doubling the penalties and even tougher sanctions for those in the counterfeit medicine trade.
Republic Act No. 8293 or the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines penalizes patent infringement with imprisonment of one to nine years plus a P50,000-P1,500,000 fine, depending on the number of offenses.
Selling, distributing, reproducing and advertising fake goods is currently punished with imprisonment of two to five years and a P50,000-P200,000 fine.
The agency has been soliciting public comments on the draft amendments.
She said IPOPHL may draft the final version of the amendments in two weeks, in time to submit it to Congress when sessions resume next month.
She added that violators using e-commerce “should have higher penalties because of the reach (of this channel) which can be used for fraud and deception,” though she expects this part of the legislation to be difficult to push through Congress and may shelve it for later.
IPOPHL estimates that patent applications in 2017 totaled 2,585, up 2.42% from a year earlier. Of the 2017 total, only 9% were filed by residents.
Francis Gurry, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization, said at the briefing that the domestic legal framework as it stands is “excellent.”
Mr. Gurry added that the focus should be “to ensure that the productive citizen takes advantage of these processes in order to generate and increase intellectual property that will bring economic returns to the country.” — Janina C. Lim