DTI Protests US IPR Watchlist on RP
Byline: BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT
Trade and Industry Secretary Juan B. Santos has criticized the US Trade Representative for its shabby treatment on the Philippine efforts in protecting intellectual property rights (IPR) and for playing favorites to Thailand and India.
Santos expressed his disappointment during his talk with US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick during the latters short visit here late last week on the recent result on the review of several countries compliance with IPR regulations wherein the USTR retained the Philippines in the Special 301 Priority Watchlist for the fourth consecutive year.
"Our achievements were not given due credit, while other neighboring countries in a similar situation as ours even worse situation than ours were given special treatment," Santos said.
"We hope, however, that the US will accord our efforts the same recognition it gave to those of our neighbors similarly situated and it would be beneficial to see more transparency in the process so that we know exactly where we stand and that it is not a moving target we are aiming for," he added.
Santos noted that Thailand and India were favorably treated after having been removed from the Priority Watchlist.
Since 2002, Santos pointed out, 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. Yet the Philippines has been retained in the Special Watch List," he stressed.
Among the concrete achievements include the implementation of the IPR action Plan, which aims to improve, strengthen and judiciary, regulation/legislation and enforcement.
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In 2004, about R900 million worth of fake goods were seized by the combined operations of the Optical Media Board (OMB), the Philippine National Polic (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 Telecommunciations Commission to address cable TV piracy. …