By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) is seeking an agreement with the other members of the Sub-Committee on Organized Crime of the National Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee (NALECC-SCOC) to intensify intellectual property rights enforcement in the country.
IPOPHL, a member of the NALECC-SCOC, recently hosted the law enforcement coordinating committee’s 68th meeting, and agreed to widen the scope of the government’s intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcement efforts via a memorandum of understanding.
The IPOPHL is targeting to sign the MOU on the occasion of the celebration of the National Intellectual Property Rights Month in April, 2018, at the latest.
“We want to have a holistic approach to IPR enforcement in the country, going beyond the jurisdictions of the enforcement agencies that are members of the NCIPR,” said IPOPHL Director General Atty. Josephine R. Santiago.
Santiago explained that with the MOU, the reach of IP enforcement can complement the efforts of the NCIPR and extend to NALEC-SCOC’s members including the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Department of Finance (DOF), among others.
In particular, the DOF’s Revenue Integrity Protection Service is keen on supporting the measure to be able to zero in on the tax liabilities of IPR violators with regard to their counterfeit goods.
With the MOU, the Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group – Anti Fraud and Commercial Crime Unit can expedite its case-building of an IPR violation, crucial to which is securing cooperation from IP rights owner through the IPOPHL.
At present, the government pursues IPR violations and cases through the mandate of Executive Order 736, establishing the NCIPR.
The NCIPR is chaired by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) with the IPOPHL as the vice chair. Its members include the Department of Justice (DOJ), Bureau of Customs (BOC), Food and Drug Authority (FDA), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine National Police (PNP), Optical Media Board (OMB), National Book Development Board (NBDB), Office of the Special Envoy on Transnational Crime (OSETC), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).
The said committee’s enforcement power on intellectual property rights is currently dictated by its member-agencies’ respective laws such as the Intellectual Property Code, Optical Media Law, the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, the Consumer Act of the Philippines, the Special Law on Counterfeit Drugs, etc.
As the vice chair of the NCIPR, the IPOPHL acts as the main coordinating body of the NCIPR – based on reports of IPR owners and refers these to enforcement agencies such as the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation.
Additionally, the IP Office is also looking to strengthen existing partnerships with other institutions such as border control agencies like the Philippine Ports Authority and the Manila International Airport Authority, through similar agreements. The office also counts the judiciary, and regulatory agencies among its partners.
The SCOC is one of the 16 sub-committees under the NALECC, which serves as the platform for the coordination of the law enforcement activities of different government agencies. The IPOPHL is a member of three subcommittees of NALECC.