By Caesar J. Poblador
News of police seizure of counterfeits are normally taken by the usual armchair skeptics as just manufactured press releases, like to put in a good word for the current police leadership. But it’s not another ho-hum press release anymore when the staid reporting also matter-of-factly mentions “billions of pesos” worth of counterfeit, such as the one reported in this link: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/metro-manila/02/18/14/fake-goods-found-paranaque-mayors-warehouse. The press release becomes juicy, at least, for those interested in seeing patterns and causal relationships in current global developments. And certainly, when you see “billions of pesos”, the movement of counterfeit is not a local phenomenon, but has origins beyond Philippine borders. “Billions of pesos” means the operation to move contraband is a sophisticated one, and highly funded. And since it is not possible that movement of such immense peso value can escape official scrutiny, then it is one with the corrupt participation of unscrupulous local government officials and insiders. So skeptics, this press release is really a sign on the wall. And it is one that should sear a realization in our consciousness that the everyday exercise of consumer choice, such as buying branded articles that come at low, low prices, – yes, counterfeits, – is fraught with unintended dire consequences that reverberate around the world. For our country, the repercussion is insidious. It can potential corrupt government officials.
By Caesar J. Poblador
Garbage from Canada, in 50 freights, smuggled into the Philippines, – really, even garbage?
So what else is new? This bit of seeming news trivia (see link at http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/577090/50-freight-containers-of-trash-traced-to-valenzuela-city-firm) reinforces the everyday narrative that people will stop at nothing to make a good buck, and lots of it. But on second look, there is nothing to trivialize. If garbage can easily slip through, then everything else can, and will. Even drugs. And that’s when the stake becomes much higher. Governments and society do fall into disarray when drug money influences policy-making. Borders thus should be tightened, and in this, hats off to that sector in society which has always been in the forefront of border protection – the trademark owners. If there’s one constant presence that watches over customs borders, it is these trademark owners. Their ploy of stemming counterfeiting at the border should work equally well to suppress the entry of other contraband. It should stand as a model of vigilance and quick action. It should not be seen as protecting the turf of wealthy trademark owners, but the overall strategy to put up a fight against all manner of economic activity involving contraband, for the protection of all. We deal with fakes now decisively, we deal with drug smuggling in the end. We fail even in this task of protecting trademarks, then we cannot defeat the menace of drugs in this country. And for the everyday life among us ordinary people, this should give us pause when tempted by cheap counterfeit. Buying it will egg on demand, which will embolden more smuggling, which will naturally lead the smuggler to expand to other contraband that can cause nations to fall. Like drugs.
On September 19, 2013, IPOPHIL Director General Blancaflor signed a bundle of Office Orders establishing the rules and regulations for some the provisions of Republic Act No. 10372, the law which passed earlier this year and amended the Intellectual Property Code. Office Order No. 13-169 establishes the rules and procedures at the Bureau of Copyright and Other Related Rights. It provides that: (1) the Bureau of Copyright and other Related Rights has original jurisdiction to hear and decide disputes relating to copyright; (2) decide on accreditation of collective management organizations; (3) conduct research in the copyright field, and (4) provide other copyright services. The Director General has exclusive appellate jurisdiction for decisions rendered by the Bureau of Copyright. Office Order 13-170 creates the rules and regulations relating to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), as an Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Office. In cases of infringement, the owner can now file a complaint with the IPO. Upon filing of the complaint, the IPO will investigate and conduct visits to the counterfeiter and give warnings not to engage in activities that violate the rights of intellectual property rights of the complainant. This Office Order outlines the procedures on how to file the complaint and the process in which the Director General handles the complaint. The Director General is empowered to issue compliance order against the defendant. Office Order No. 13-171 lays down the procedures for registering a copyrighted with the Bureau of Copyright and Related Rights. It lays down the requirements and procedure for registering copyrightable with the Bureau of Copyright and Related Rights. Office Order No. 13-173 relates to accreditation of collective management organizations. Collective Management Organizations or (“CMO”) are societies chosen by artists, writers, composers and other right-holders to collectively manage their economic or moral rights. Before this amendment, there was no accreditation requirement for such societies. This Office Order provides the rules and regulations governing the accreditation procedure.
The IPO has posted a bulletin for comments on a proposal to amend certain provisions of the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines (IP Code). Entitled “An Act Amending Certain Provisions Of Republic Act No. 8293 Entitled (in turn entitled ‘An Act Prescribing The Intellectual Property Code And Establishing The Intellectual Property Office, Providing For Its Powers And Functions And For Other Purposes’)”, the IPO seeks to increase the power of the Bureau of Legal Affairs (BLA), which is the arm that hears complaint for violation of intellectual property rights. If approved, the Bureau will be fairly the equivalent of regular courts, which can execute its own decisions, order injunctions, and award damages. These proposed amendments give the BLA the ability to command law enforcement authorities to assist the BLA in enforcing its orders and decisions. The BLA’s hearing officers will be no different in power from judges of regular courts. And because the BLA will be singularly focused on intellectual property complaints, it will be on the same level as “special courts” designated by the Supreme Court to exclusively handle commercial law cases.