MANILA, Philippines — The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) said it received 134 counterfeiting and piracy complaints from rights holders and the public from January to September this year.

IPOPHL said in a statement that this marked a 56-percent increase from the 86 recorded in the comparable period in 2020.

Concerned netizens accounted for 74 percent of all reporting activities, a finding that IPOPHL Deputy Director General Teodoro C. Pascua said “signifies the public’s growing awareness of piracy and its negative effects.”

“It’s very energizing to see that the general public is stepping up to prevent piracy from getting in our way toward recovery. IP (intellectual property) rights holders must also be more vigilant than ever,” Pascua said, clarifying that the low rate of complaints from IP rights holders, at just 5 percent, does not necessarily mean lack of enforcement on the agency’s part.

Brands join hands

Rights holders may also be coordinating directly with platforms to take down posts or accounts that infringe on their rights or claims, according to Pascua. Thirteen brand owners and industry associations have so far joined hands with Lazada, Shopee and Zalora to ensure efficient take-down mechanisms are in place in these shopping platforms.

Counterfeiting accounted for 103 or 77 percent of total complaints and reports this year. Apparel topped the list with 81 counts, or a 75.7 percent share in counterfeiting cases, followed by perfume and beauty products (7.5 percent).

In terms of piracy, TV shows, movies, and educational books were the most shared or sold illegally online.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the counterfeiting and piracy cases have taken place on online platforms.

This year, 61 percent of IPOPHL reports and complaints were on Facebook; 14.8 percent on Shopee; a total of 10.4 percent on various websites which IPOPHL did not mention; 6.6 percent on Lazada; 4.9 percent on Instagram; 1.6 percent on Carousell; and 0.5 percent on YouTube.

“We encourage rights holders to continue taking advantage of platforms’ remedies to protect their [IP] online. They should also work together with platforms so they can find more innovative mechanisms that can remove IP violating content at greater scale and in less time,” IP Rights Enforcement Office (IEO) officer-in-charge Ann Edillon said.

Enforcement order

Edillon also encouraged IP rights holders to file a complaint at the IPOPHL, especially when platforms’ remedies don’t work, so they could issue an enforcement order through the IEO or even a temporary restraining order through the Bureau of Legal Affairs or through the courts.

An enforcement order can be a cease-and-desist order, an order to remove counterfeit and pirated goods or content from physical establishments, an endorsement or a referral to relevant government offices for cancellation of permits and licenses and blocking of access to IP infringing sites, in coordination with an appropriate agency, among others.

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