RP Hopeful on Coming US IPR Watchlist Review

Article excerpt

Byline: BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT

The Philippines is included in the out-of-cycle review in November this year of the US Special 301 Priority Watchlist for intellectual property rights violations, offering hopes of a positive news for a country, which has been in the priority watch list for four consecutive years.

This was revealed by Intellectual Property Office Director-General Adrian Cristobal Jr. that US trade officials are coming to town and the issue of IPR is among the items in their visit.

It could be recalled that Philippine officials felt bad when the U.S. chose to retain the country in the priority watchlist of IPR violators despite efforts to curb optical media piracy and stepping up enforcement efforts.

The result of the latest review of several countries' compliance with IPR regulations, the US Trade Representative office retained the Philippines in the priority watchlist but removed Thailand and India.

Since 2002, the government has been implementing vigorously an IPR Action Plan which contained specific suggestions from the USTR.

The Philippine government has shown its political will and firm commitment by accomplishing almost all of the targets of the action plan. US industries have recognized the substantial gains made by the Philippines against counterfeits.

Among the concrete achievements include the implementation of the IPR action Plan, which aims to improve, strengthen and judiciary, regulation/legislation and enforcement.

In 2004, about P900 million worth of fake goods were seized by the combined operations of the Optical Media Board (OMB), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Following the IPR Action Plan, the Philippine government set up 65 special commercial courts to handle IPR cases, passed critical legislation such as the Optical Media Act and its Implementing Rules and Regulations; institutionalized specialized IPR enforcement units in the NBI, PNP, the Bureau of Customs to improve border control regulation, and soon in the National Telecommunications Commission to address cable TV piracy. …