ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Philippines to attack IPR
With its new tack, IPOPHL hopes the Philippines would be removed from the US Trade Representative's (USTR) Watch List of countries lacking intellectual property rights (IPR) protection, according to Ricardo Blancaflor, IPOPHL director general.
Blancaflor told reporters that IPOPHL expects confiscations totaling about P4.5 billion in counterfeit goods by the end of the year.
Fewer seizure activities were conducted this year because IPR law enforcement agencies-the National Bureau of Investigation, the Optical Media Board (OMB), and the Philippine National Police-were busy with the recent elections, Blancaflor said.
This is why IPOPHL is asking Malaca?ang to issue an executive order (EO) that would give the agency powers to conduct confiscations, he said.
Blancaflor said IPOPHL has already submitted to the Palace a draft EO that would grant the agency enforcement powers. He said Malaca?ang is studying the proposal.
At present, the Bureau of Customs and OMB grant IPOPHL "visitorial powers" or authority to conduct raids in liaison with the two agencies.
"Our first remedy is border control," Blancaflor said.
Besides the draft EO, there are two pending bills in Congress that seek to give IPOPHL enforcement functions.
"It is our hope that we will have enforcement powers by next year," Blancaflor said.
"Next year, we will have a holistic approach, not just raids and seizures," he added.
Among IPOPHL's new strategies include directly talking to shopping centers where there is a proliferation of counterfeit products.
Blancaflor said IPOPHL is already monitoring the items carrying the high-end brands Breitling, Fitflop, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Nike and Sanok at Greenhills Shopping Center, after the local distributors of the six brands requested the agency's assistance.
By next week, there would be 20 more brands that would be monitored by IPOPHL at Greenhills.
With these new strategies, IPOPHL is hopeful of the Philippines' removal from the Watch List of the USTR's Special 301 Report on IPR next year, Blancaflor said.
Since 2005, the Philippines has been a fixture in the Watch List-which indicates problems in IPR protection and enforcement.
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