By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL), a government body in charge of protecting intellectual property works, may not likely be able to comply with the new Ease of Doing Business Law, which mandates government agencies to reduce to the barest minimum the number of days in all business processes, particularly permitting and licensing.
IPOPHL Director General Josephine R. Santiago explained to reporters that her agency is among those supposedly non-business government entities in need longer time to approve any application for patents, trademarks and other IPR-related applications.
With the law and the succeeding IRR, simple government business transactions should be approved not more than 3 days, while the complicated ones should be completed in 7 days and the more complex in 20 days, otherwise they are considered approved.
A trademark certified copy can be done in 3 days, but Santiago stressed it would be impossible to approve a patent, trademark or design application in 20 or 40 days.
“Patent application covers a gargantuan of data,” she said showing how thick the voluminous documents that have to be filed and analyzed by its lawyers and experts.
For instance, the fastest patent approval they have experienced for a patent application was two years and that is very rare. Applications for utility model, industrial designs and trademarks could be faster at six months, but that is only for registration purposes.
Even if IPOPHL would like to comply with the law, their applications for IPR are sometimes covered by international treaties in which they should also observe international obligations standards.
“We don’t want to sacrifice quality for speed,” stressed Santiago.
“Ours is non-business and we have to look at complicated databases,” said Santiago. In order to comply with the law, she said “we need additional manpower and resources.”
“It is impossible for us unless we hire 2,000 to 3,000 people,” she said adding that IPOPHL now has only 250 employees out of 300 plantilla positions.
Santiago said that when the law was crafted the IPOPHL was not invited to any of the consultations conducted because the law was not intended to cover the agency, but is now being included technical working committee for the drafting of the law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations, which is expected to come out on September 19. Other non-business government agencies include Securities and Exchange Commission, Insurance Commission and Food and Drugs Administration.