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Records 56% increase in counterfeiting and piracy

Following their sustained information, educating and dissemination drive against counterfeiting and piracy, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) received 134 counterfeiting and piracy complaints from rights holders and reports from the public in the first nine months of the year, with concerned citizens being the most active intellectual property (IP) violation reporters this year. 

This was revealed during the virtual KaIPhan: Brewing Intellectual Property Conversations held yesterday October 29, 2021.

The 2021 record shows that a 56% increase from the 86 recorded in the comparable period in 2020 was observed.

Counterfeiting accounted for 103 or 77% of total complaints and reports this year. Apparel topped the list with 81 counts or a 75.7% share to overall suspected counterfeiting, followed by perfume and beauty products (7.5%); other items, such as keychain, umbrella, etc. (4.7%); gadgets (2.8%); cigarettes (2.8%); food (2.8%); pharmaceuticals and medical products (2.8%); and home items (0.9%).

For piracy, TV shows/movies and educational books were the most shared or sold illegally online, with each category having nine counts and a share of 28.1%. These were followed by software (25%); general e-books (15.6%); and artwork (3.1%).

Concerned netizens accounted for 74% of all reporting activities, a finding that IPOPHL Deputy Director General Teodoro C. Pascua said “signifies the public’s growing awareness of piracy and its negative effects.”

“It’s very energizing to see that the general public is stepping up to prevent piracy from getting in our way toward recovery. IP rights holders must also be more vigilant than ever,” Pascua said, clarifying that the low complaints by IP rights holders at IPOPHL –– contributing the lowest at 5% –– does not necessarily mean lack of enforcement on their part. 

Rightsholders may already be coordinating with platforms to directly report and request the take-down of infringing posts or accounts, according to Pascua. 

To date, 13 brand owners and industry associations have joined hands with Lazada, Shopee and Zalora to develop and ensure efficient take-down mechanisms are in place in these shopping platforms. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the counterfeiting and piracy have taken place on online platforms. This year, 61% of IPOPHL reports and complaints were on Facebook; 14.8% on Shopee; a total of 10.4% on unpopular websites; 6.6% on Lazada; 4.9% on Instagram; 1.6% on Carousell; and 0.5% on YouTube. 

“We encourage rights holders to continue taking advantage of platforms’ remedies to protect their IPs online. They should also work together with platforms so they can find more innovative mechanisms that can remove IP violating content at greater scale and in less time,” IP Rights Enforcement Office (IEO) Officer-in-Charge Director Ann N. Edillon said.

Edillon also encouraged IP rights holders to file a complaint at IPOPHL, when platforms’ remedies don’t work, so it can issue an enforcement order through the IEO or temporary restraining order through the Bureau of Legal Affairs or the courts.

An enforcement order can be a cease-and-desist order; an order to remove counterfeit and pirated goods or content from physical establishments; an endorsement or a referral to relevant government offices for cancellation of permits and licenses; and blocking of access to IP infringing sites, in coordination with the appropriate agency, among others.

IPOPHL Director General Rowel Barba

In closing, IPOPHL Director General Rowel Barba pointed out the role of the media in helping the Intellectual Property of the Philippines Office n creating awareness about the importance of abating piracy and protecting the Filipino entrepreneurs in their rights, trademarks and brand from being counterfeited or pirated.

Furthermore, he hoped that beginning 2022, there will be a quarterly face-to-face KaIPhan to discuss what can be done to support the MSMEs and the innovators in the country.

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