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IPOPHL, CONWEP partner to thwart counterfeit wearables

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The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) has sealed a partnership with the Confederation of Wearables Exporters of the Philippines (CONWEP) to protect consumers and intellectual property (IP) rights holders against the sale and manufacture of counterfeit apparel and footwear products both in physical and online markets. 

IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba and CONWEP President Lawrence de los Santos signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on February 13, 2023. 

The MOU sets a framework for both parties to cooperate and ensure the protection of IP rights of CONWEP members and to adequately address trademark infringement and counterfeiting issues.

“If left unchecked, counterfeit apparel and footwear products may pose grave danger to the health and safety of consumers. It may also negatively affect brands, which have built their reputation on the high quality of their products and their compliance with legally set safety standards,” said Director General Rowel S. Barba.

“Moreover, counterfeit apparel and footwear products are often made under labor-abusive conditions which both IPOPHL and CONWEP do not tolerate,” he added. 

In the “Global Trade in Fakes: A Worrying Threat,” a report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), it was shown that footwear products and clothing (knitted or crocheted) from 2017 to 2019 were the top types of goods most subject to counterfeiting, with footwear accounting for about 25% of the total volume of global customs seizures during the period and clothing of said classification close to 20%.

Overall, the unified database on customs seizures of IP-infringing goods includes almost 465,000 observations in the three years ending 2019, up from the 428,000 recorded from 2011 to 2013.

For his part, Mr. de los Santos expressed CONWEP’s appreciation for the opportunity to work with IPOPHL.

“We are pleased to collaborate with IPOPHL on our common interest to assist industries in the global community to protect IP, a factor that can influence how global customers perceive brands,” Mr. de los Santos added.

Based on the initial work plan IPOPHL prepared, the implementation of the MOU will take on projects on stakeholder consultation, information sharing and capacity building. The draft plan has yet to be finalized with CONWEP to ensure an effective cooperation with maximized outcomes.

CONWEP is the largest association of the Philippine export manufacturing sector in apparel, travel goods and shoes, with members shipping to major global apparel and sports brands in the US, Europe and Japan. 

It advocates to promote business and investment policies and trade agreements supportive of improved competitive position and increased market access of Philippine exporters in foreign markets, including the protection of their IP rights. CONWEP is in partnership with various local and foreign offices and organizations such as the American Apparel & Footwear Association, the national association representing apparel manufacturers in the US. 

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