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Japan design industry trains Phl in industrial designs and Hague system

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The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines’ (IPOPHL) Bureau of Patents (BOP) is intensifying efforts to expand its skills in examining complex and emerging industrial designs (ID).

In January 2024, BOP examiners participated in a two-day seminar focused on the “Substantive Examination of ID.” It was conducted by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) who shared their current techniques respectively in creating designs and determining when minute differences can suffice to prove novelty.

“Given the maturity of the design industry in Japan, the shared knowledge of our partners from JAMA and JETRO is valuable. This helps equip our examiners for local designers who have eyes set on various foreign markets,” Director General Rowel S. Barba said. 

He added that advancing the BOP’s expertise in ID is a timely initiative in light of increasing filings. In 2023, ID applications grew 20% to 1,488 from 1,241 in 2022.

Readying for the Hague

Barba said that the recent seminar also helped the BOP gain knowledge from the Japanese experience in optimizing the use of the Hague System, which will be relevant to the country’s ongoing work in acceding to the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement. 

“The accession documents are now with the Department of Foreign Affairs. We expect the Philippines to accede to the Hague within the year and for IPOPHL to operationalize this later this year or early 2025,” Barba said. 

Aside from enhancing examination skills, the BOP will also be upskilling its administrative staff to ensure a streamlined process for applications under the Hague system. IPOPHL will also be coordinating with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for greater IT support amid an expected influx of online applications. 

With the simplified international filing system under the Hague Agreement, Filipino designers will be able to protect their designs efficiently in multiple jurisdictions. Small and medium enterprises can also enjoy lower cost in filing fees compared with filing individually in each country.

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