Intellectual Property Rights

By Villafuerte, Nelly Favis | Manila Bulletin, March 17, 2000 | Go to article overview

Intellectual Property Rights


Villafuerte, Nelly Favis, Manila Bulletin


Intellectual property (IP) is probably the area of law that has been receiving the most cyberspace attention. Somebody once said that in this age of information, virtually everything is intellectual property.

Under the provisions of Republic Act No. 8293, the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, particularly the term intellectual property rights consists of: (a) Copyright and related rights; (b) Trademarks and Service Marks; (c) Geographic Indications; (d) Industrial Designs; (e) Patents; (f) LayoutDesigns (Topographies) of Integrated Circuits; and (g) Protection of Undisclosed Information.

Many people are saying that the traditional law on intellectual property cannot adequately cope with the legal issues arising in cyberspace since cyberspace is very different from the real world. It is also argued that when the intellectual property system was first developed, cyberspace was not yet on the drawing board and therefore the traditional law could not possibly anticipate the legal issues that are now cropping up in cyber cases on intellectual property.

With Internet, writers, musicians, photographers, programmers, and other owners of creative works can now reach a wider audience easily and cheaply. But since it is easy in cyberspace to reproduce copies and distribute creative works, the danger of plagiarism and unauthorized redistribution of intellectual property items like trademarks, patents, and copyrights cannot be discounted.

Considering too that electronic copies capture the quality and detail of the original items.

The fear of the owners of intellectual property items is understandable. Their urgent need for legal protection is not a myth. Before Internet changed our lives, the distribution of the creative works of owners/creators was in the hands of publishers and broadcasters. Not anymore. There are just too many communication outlets available and wide open in the Internet - and this is giving holders of intellectual property rights sleepless nights.

Let us examine the fundamentals of copyright and trademark laws to have a better understand of the problems on intellectual property in cyberspace.

While the word copyright is not defined in our Intellectual Property Code, Sections 172 and 173 enumerate the original and derivative works, including literary and artistic works, that are protected by copyright.

Among those listed under literary and artistic works in Section 172 of the Intellectual Property Code are computer programs. While computer programs are protected by the Copyright law, they are excluded from patent protection as provided for under Section 22 of the Philippine Law on Patents.

Incidentally in our Intellectual Property Code, economic rights mean the same as copyright.

Attached to the owner/ or creator of the different kinds of items eligible for copyright protection are the exclusive right to make copies; to distribute copies; to prepare derivative works; to perform the works and to display the works; and of course to file a case in court to enforce said rights. …

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