THE Philippines’ score improved by nearly four percentage points in the US Chamber of Commerce’s (USCC) 2020 International Intellectual Property Index, after its implementation of additional anti-counterfeiting and piracy measures and the addition of new indicators in the index.

The country kept its ranking of 37 out of 53 countries. Last year, the index included 50 countries.

The index, released by the USCC Global Innovation Policy Center, reported that the Philippines index score stood at 39.94%, garnering 19.97 points out of 50 indicators. In comparison, the Philippines score reached 36% or 16.2 points out of 45 indicators in last year’s index.

The Philippines’ key strengths, the report said, is in fast-tracking the trade mark registration period, amendments to the intellectual property (IP) code to strengthen criminal sanctions, research and development incentives, IP rights legislation, and capacity building.

But the report said the country has barriers for licensing and technology transfer, significant gaps in life sciences and content-related IP rights, and rampant online and software piracy.

The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) in a statement on Wednesday said that considering the three additional economies in the index, the Philippine standing is 70% to the top, from 74% in the previous year.

“We are most glad for its careful and positive observation on the progress of the country’s intellectual property rights environment, especially on enforcement which is entrenched in IPOPHL’s endeavor to protect creativity and innovation,” IPOPHL Officer-in-Charge Director General Teodoro C. Pascua said.

The Philippines’ strongest areas, or the indicators where the country scored a full point, included patent term of protection, plant variety protection, trademarks’ term of protection, world intellectual property organization internet treaties, and membership of the convention on cybercrime.

The report noted that the country’s strong performance was in part due to an increase in its “availability of frameworks that promote cooperative private action against online sale of counterfeit goods.”

IPOPHL in 2019 held a focus group discussion with online platforms to discuss interventions to counterfeit goods.

“One of the Philippines’ biggest online retailers, Zalora, recently introduced tougher filtering procedure for sellers to be granted access to the commercial platform. Similarly, in 2019 another of the biggest retailers, Lazada, joined Alibaba’s IP Protection Platform, which works as a one-stop shop for rights-holders to submit and track infringement notices,” the report said.

The report said the Philippines is also moving closer to making substantive changes to its copyright environment, with two pending bills in Congress.

House Bill 9148 would allow IPOPHL to issue notice-and-takedown orders addressing online piracy and counterfeiting, giving way for copyright owners to claim damages.

The new Philippine Online Infringing Act would allow IPOPHL to recommend to the National Telecommunications Commission the cancellation of an ISP’s operating license if it fails to remove infringing content within a given time period.

Mr. Pascua said IPOPHL’s enforcement team, the IP Rights Enforcement Office (IEO), will be ironing out enforcement guidelines to keep up with modern business models.

“(IEO) has also identified critical players in the supply chain of counterfeit trade with whom we believe we should engage,” he said.

“We want to encourage them to set up their own mechanisms that will prevent counterfeiters, including those indirectly contributing to counterfeit trade, from utilizing their channels for criminal operations.” — Jenina P. Ibañez

How does the Philippines compare with other Asian economies in terms of intellectual property enforcement and protection?