23 June 2017
Intellectual Property Protection in the Philippines
Intellectual Property (IP) rights are territorial in nature and registrations in Hong Kong or another jurisdiction are not automatically enforceable in other jurisdictions. Hong Kong companies are advised to register their IP as soon as practicable.
The Philippines has a strong IP system overseen by the Philippines Intellectual Property Office (IPOPHL), which offers good advice on IP on Intellectual Property Code and other relatable laws.
Overview of IP Rights in the Philippines
Patents – protects commercial inventions, e.g. a new business product or process
Designs – protects industrial designs, such as drawings or computer models
A patent/design will be granted to the inventor who submits a patent application earlier than other investors.
Registration and Fees
The process to follow is detailed on the IPOPHL website, with an Application Process flowchart provided for each IP right. The fees schedules for the relevant IP rights are:
The Philippines is part of the Patent Co-operation Treaty, Paris Convention and ASEAN Patent Examination Co-operation – Hong Kong companies can benefit from reduced fees and time spent in registering patents and industrial designs in the event of registering in multiple countries or jurisdictions.
Copyright – protects literary, scholarly, scientific and artistic works, whether published or unpublished. Copyright protection also extends to computer programs, multimedia works, and databases that are original by reason of the selection, coordination or arrangement of their contents.
Further information on copyright can be found on the Copyright section of the IPOPHL website.
Lifetime of the creator and 50 years after death.
Copyright is an automatic protection. However, the owner of the copyright may wish to file an application for a certificate of registration, and deposit copies of the works with the Copyright Division of the National Library and the Supreme Court Library. There is a small fee [maximum PHP750 (US$15)]. Guidance on the registration process can be found on the IPOPHL website.
Trademarks – protect signs, symbols, logos, words or sounds
The right to a trademark is granted to the one who first files a trademark application with IPOPHL. Before applying for trademark registration, it is recommended that a search in the trademarks database be conducted to check on identical or similar trademarks.
Valid for 10 years generally, provided that the registrant files with IPOPHL a declaration of use/justifiable non-use within one year following the fifth anniversary of the date of the registration or renewal.
The registration is renewable at the end of each 10th year from registration, so long as the mark is still in commercial use.
Registration and Fees
A trademark application form must be completed, drawing of the mark and payment of fees (see trademark fee schedule on the IPOPHL website).
Technology Transfer Arrangements
The IP Code features rules and regulations around technology transfer arrangements (a contract or agreement involving the transfer of systematic knowledge for the manufacture of a product or the application of a process).
The list of requirements under the IP Code is extensive and it is important that foreign IP owners seek independent advice on their contractual arrangements when entering into contracts with Philippine licensees – the contracts are generally subject to Philippine taxes, even though the foreign owners may not be doing business within the Philippines.
Enforcement of IP Rights
The IPOPHL Enforcement Office (IEO) is responsible for the law around the enforcement of IP and reviews IP rights-related complaints.
IP infringement is not considered a major crime in the Philippines and takes a lower priority in court proceedings, and consequently out-of-court settlements may be more preferable. IPOPHL has established a joint dispute resolution procedure to facilitate the mediation of IP disputes pending before IPOPHL with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Centre.
Hong Kong companies with IP concerns can seek advice from the following:
2. Bureau of Customs – it is recommended that companies record their products covered by IP rights with the BOC.
3. Optical Media Board – responsible for combating widespread piracy of video and audio products.
- Regulatory Environment
- Establishing a Presence
- Intellectual Property Protection
- Staff Recruitment
- Tax Considerations
- Import/Export Procedures
- Further information