Intellectual property infringement complaints spike during lockdown

THE Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) said it received 135 intellectual property violation reports in the first nine months, which include the lockdown period, exceeding the total compiled during the four years to 2019 by 4%.

The majority of the complaints involved counterfeiting and piracy, accounting for 32% and 30% respectively. The rest involve other instances of intellectual infringement such as the use of similar marks and the unauthorized use of copyrighted work.

Total violation reports from consumers and complaints from intellectual property rights holders this year surpassed the 129 in the five years to 2019, IPOPHL said in a statement Thursday.

Most counterfeiting and piracy violations are done online. Almost 70% were done through Facebook, while 17% were done on top ecommerce websites like Shopee and Lazada, and 4% were on YouTube.

The agency has acted on 108 or 80% of the complaints, while the remaining 27 are being processed.

IPOPHL has warned the public that violators may view the crisis as an opportunity to advance their illicit trade given the supply and demand imbalance during the lockdown. Shoppers are increasing their dependence on online shopping and entertainment, IPOPHL said, where the transactions are less subject to monitoring.

IPOPHL is consulting with e-commerce platforms and some rights holders to develop guidelines on taking down posts with illicit content.

“Specifically, through the agreement, a notice and takedown system and procedure will be developed by online platforms to more swiftly address reports on counterfeit goods and pirated materials being sold online. We hope it will be signed soon this year once the remaining issues are resolved,” IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba said.

He added that the office will soon finalize its new rules to broaden its online monitoring and prevent intellectual property rights violators from making a sale.

“The primary objective of the revision is to add more disruptive enforcement functions to the IEO (IP Rights Enforcement Office), such as clearly including online counterfeiting and piracy in its coverage,” he said. — Jenina P. Ibañez

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