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PHL stays on US intellectual property watch list

President Benigno Aquino III during an HP forum.

MANILA, May 2 (Mabuhay) – The Philippines remains on the United States’ intellectual property rights (IPR) watch list because of various law enforcement issues, changes to the Patent Law and pending amendments to the copyright law, according to the US government.

In a Special 301 Report released Monday (Tuesday in PHL), US Trade Representative Ronald Kirk noted several gains the Philippines made on IPR laws and enforcement, including the enactment of the Anti-Camcording Act and the closure of two significant notorious markets for counterfeit products.

Retention on the list was expected by the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL).

Also on the watch list are 39 other trading partners of the US.

Of the 40 trading partners, 13 are in a “priority watch list” that includes China, Indonesia, Thailand, and Canada.

“The Philippines submitted its IPR Action Plan in 2011, and has religiously implemented the same. That is why its retention in the Watch List is indeed discouraging,” said IPOPHL director general Ricardo Blancflor, who had hoped the submission of the action plan would get the country off the watch list in the same way Saudi Arabia and Taiwan were able to.

“Undaunted and unfazed, the IPOPHL, although saddened by the Philippines’ retention in the Watch List indicated in the USTR Special 301 Report, will continue its aggressive campaign against pirates and counterfeiters, and will keep increasing its efforts until the Philippines is eventually removed from the Watch List,” Blancaflor added.

In the Special 301 Report, the number of reasons that kept the Philippines on the watch list was more than the gains noted.

“The United States is hopeful that effective implementation of the (Supreme Court rules on IPR cases) will help streamline the judicial process for IPR cases,” Kirk said while urging the Philippines to improve the quality of criminal investigations and prosecutions, as well as predictability on the issuance of search and seizure orders.

Kirk also called for the enactment of “long-pending legislation to amend (the) copyright law and ensure full implementation of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Internet Treaties.

Also cited were amendments to the Patent Law, which according to the USTR, “limit the patentability of certain chemical forms unless the applicant demonstrates increased efficacy.”

“The US encourages the Philippines to provide an effective system for protecting against the unfair commercial use, as well as unauthorized disclosure, of test or other data generated to obtain marketing approval for pharmaceutical and agricultural chemical products,” Kirk also said.

He then raised concerns about “policies that inhibit US exports of IPR-intensive products to the Philippines, including measures that limit the market for imported pharmaceutical products.” (MNS)

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