By BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT
The Philippines saw a marked increase in its overall score in the United States Chamber of Commerce (USCC) 2020 International Intellectual Property (IP) Index, but maintained its overall ranking at 37th as more countries were added in the latest survey.
Launched by the USCC’s Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) on Feb. 5, 2020, the survey has added three more economies to 53 countries from 50 countries last year. Now, on its 8th edition, the 2020 Index benchmarks the IP framework in 53 global economies using 50 indicators which industry believes are representative of economies with the most effective IP systems. The indicators span nine categories of protection: patents, copyrights, trademarks, design rights, trade secrets, commercialization of IP assets, enforcement, systemic efficiency, and membership and ratification of international treaties.
Notably, the Philippines’ overall index score stood at 39.94 percent as it fared positively in 19.97 indicators out of 50. This marked an impressive increase from 36 percent for 16.2 out of 45 indicators in the 2019 index.
The nearly four percentage points in the USCC’s GIPC 2020 Index was mainly due to the cooperative approach the country has taken against online counterfeiting and piracy, as well as the addition of new indicators in which the country scored remarkably.
The index cited as a contributing factor the country’s 0.25-point climb in the “Availability of frameworks that promote cooperative private action against online sale of counterfeit goods” indicator.
The index also noted the country’s “strong performance” in indicators it added this year, namely: “Plant variety protection, term of protection” in which the Philippines scored 1 point; “IP-intensive industries, national economic impact analysis” with 0.50 point; and “Membership of the Convention on Cybercrime, 2001” with 1 point.
Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) Officer-in-Charge Director General Teodoro C. Pascua explained that although the Philippine ranking appeared unchanged at face value, it should be noted that the USCC added three more economies into its scope.
“This means a more accurate look into an economy’s standing will require the use of percentile ranking; on this basis, the Philippines moved 70 percent closer to the top, from 74 percent in the previous year,” Pascua said.
“We welcome the findings of USCC-GIPC’s report. We are most glad for its careful and positive observation on the progress of the country’s intellectual property rights environment, especially on enforcement which is entrenched in IPOPHL’s (Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines) endeavor to protect creativity and innovation,” Pascua said.
The USCC-GIPC took stock of IPOPHL’s focus group discussion with e-commerce players in August 2019 where the Office and the private sector explored ways to more effectively respond to violation notices and thwart online access to counterfeit goods. It noted the anti-infringement efforts which some of the country’s biggest online retailers, specifically Zalora and Lazada, voluntarily put in place also in 2019.
USCC-GIPC also highlighted significant efforts to make the local environment more conducive to creative industry players. It said: “In 2019, the Philippines moved closer to adopting substantive changes to its copyright environment that will provide rights-holders with more effective ways of combating online infringement.”
Supporting this observation are two pending legislations the report pointed out: House Bill 9148 or the New IP Act and Senate Bill No. 497 or the Philippine Online Infringing Act.
The proposed New IP Act intends to, among others, give IPOPHL the power to issue notice-and-takedown orders to address online piracy and counterfeiting. The bill would also enable copyright owners to claim damages from infringing sites and grant them ownership of the domain name of the infringing site.