IPOPHL drafts work plan to end counterfeit activities at Greenhills

The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) said it has proposed a work plan to tackle “long standing” counterfeit activities at the Greenhills Shopping Center as the shopping mall in San Juan City has once again been cited in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) 2022 Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy.

“While the shopping center’s continued inclusion in the list puts the Philippines’s reputation in protecting intellectual property [IP] rights on the line, we are pleased to see that several positive developments in this case have been cited by the USTR,” IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba said in a news statement issued on Wednesday.

According to the USTR report, which was published on Tuesday, Greenhills, a popular shopping hub with over 2,000 indoor and outdoor stores, houses storefronts that sell counterfeit goods, including electronics, perfumes, watches, shoes, accessories, and fashion items.

The USTR report noted that among the developments was law enforcement authorities’ high-profile raid that led to the seizure of counterfeit luxury goods in April 2022. Moreover, the report stated that right holders report enforcement activity in the form of “warning letters and subsequent suspension” of businesses.

However, the US trade office said the targets of enforcement “often evade such efforts by moving the location of their stalls.”

As acting chair of the 15-member National Committee on IP Rights (NCIPR), IPOPHL said it has proposed a work plan to address the counterfeit activities at Greenhills.

The agency said the draft plan is currently under review by the NCIPR members who are expected to indicate what they can contribute to each proposed strategy. IPOPHL said the committee is slated to meet in late February.

The proposed work plan, IPOPHL noted, includes major strategies such as strengthening the NCIPR’s collaboration  with Greenhills with hopes of compelling the shopping center to implement “stricter” monitoring of their stalls and impose “heftier” penalties against sellers of counterfeit products.

Moreover, under the work plan, the NCIPR will coordinate with brand owners to “actively” submit Affidavits of Complaints to Greenhills to indicate their expression of filing a legal complaint and as notice to the mall’s management of potential violators.

The attached agency of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it would also help vendors appreciate the “long-term value” of respecting others’ IP rights and creating their own IP-protected products.

As for the key policies it is pushing, IPOPHL said it also hopes to compel local government units (LGUs) to fully enforce the Intellectual Property (IP) Code of 1997 and the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) IP-related issuances, namely, Memorandum Circular (MC) 2020-124 and MC 2022-055.

“MC 2020-124 mandates local offices to issue an ordinance that will, among others, cancel business permits of IP-violating shops while MC 2022-055 encourages LGUs to adopt their respective Anti-Counterfeit and Anti-Piracy Policies to promote IP respect in the workplace,” IPOPHL said in a news statement issued on Wednesday.

“Truly, clearing Greenhills of IP infringement activities will not be an easy feat. Its long-standing reputation as a market for Class As and Bs and pirated DVDs has cut across generations. The problem demands the close and consistent collaboration among NCIPR members, local governments, brand owners and Greenhills – both its managers and vendors. Equally important is the role of consumers whom we continuously enlighten about the possible harms of counterfeiting to their health, lives and households, as well as to the environment and the economy in the bigger picture and longer term,” Barba said.

The IPOPHL chief added that the agency will also be drafting separate work plans for Baclaran markets, Divisoria markets and the Cartimar Shopping Center, which had been cited in the European Commission’s latest Counterfeit and Piracy Watch List. -30-


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