The Embassy of Switzerland in the Philippines in cooperation with the Philippine Swiss Business Council held its first Breakfast Discussion on Challenges in Counterfeit, Trademarks and Patents. Her Excellency, Ambassador Andrea Reichlin of the Swiss Embassy in the Philippines graciously hosted the event last October 27, 2015 at her official residence. Ambassador Reichlin, who just recently arrived in the Philippines, advocated to the PSBC Board the need to hold informative breakfast discussion whenever an Expert-Resource Person or a CEO from Swiss companies are in town.
The invited experts are no other than Atty. Jean-Pierre Maeder, Council Member of the Swiss Institute for Intellectual Property (IP) and Filipino IP expert Atty. Ferdinand Negre of the Bengzon Negre Untalan Intellectual Property Attorneys.
During the discussion, Atty. Maeder stressed that companies should prioritize the registration of their respective patents or trademark in order to protect one’s intellectual property rights and the need to reciprocate the same registration where the products or services will be marketed. Atty. Maeder remarked that the Philippines is in the right direction as intellectual property rights are already part of the Philippine school curriculum just like in more advance countries. He also emphasized that the IP registration process need not be tedious but expeditious. Atty. Negre echoed the same “quick registration process” already happening in the Philippines today.
The PSBC members that attended the event took turns asking relevant questions on IP rights issues in the Philippines. Atty. Negre apprised the participants that most IP rights cases are now being resolved through mediation, hastening the resolution of cases. Another milestone was the removal of the Philippines from the USTR Special Watch List last year. Despite this positive developments, IP Rights challenges remain for the country. Counterfeit smuggling is high on the list due to our natural porous borders being an Archipelago and tracking direct Internet Sales from foreign origins. Likewise, a lot need to be done to enforce customs law at our main ports where most smuggling occurs.
Atty. Negre ended the discussion by reinforcing the economic benefits of registering a brand, highlighting success stories of a few well-known food chains: These companies quickly resolved their respective trademark infringement cases filed in court due to mediation. Other companies enjoyed the benefits of a higher valuation due to its trademark.
To summarize, a portion of the Philippine IP Code needs amendment to provide IP protection with respect to geographical locations, as our laws are specific to territorial jurisdictional rules. This same amendment will provide opportunities to make our trademark enforceable in close to 100 countries.
For more queries on IP matters, please email PSBC at email@example.com.
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Newsletter: 30 October 2015, Makati City