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Phl seized record-high counterfeit products worth almost P27B in 2023

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The National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR) booked in 2023 a record haul of counterfeit goods in terms of value as seizure operations increased.

The total intellectual property (IP) infringing goods seized in January to December last year reached an estimated market value of P26.86 billion, surpassing the previous record of P24.90 billion registered in 2021. 

About 94% of the 2023 seizures derive from the operations of the Bureau of Customs (BOC). The rest resulted from the operations of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), with a haul worth P1.20 billion; the Philippine National Police (PNP), with a P285.93 million value; the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with a P1.58 million value; and the Optical Media Board (OMB), with a P221,500 haul.

NCIPR Acting Chair and IP Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) Director General Rowel S. Barba said that based on previous NCIPR meetings, most of the BOC’s seizures consisted of apparel while the majority of the PNP’s haul were cigarettes taken from warehouses in various provinces.

The IPOPHL chief lauded the NCIPR for helping prevent the counterfeit goods from reaching the hands of consumers after recording 3,087 enforcement operations conducted in 2023. These operations were mobilized through general law enforcement agency operations, inspections, search warrants and warrants of seizure and detention. The total marks an increase from 2,962 operations logged through inspections and search warrants in 2022. 

“With more aggressive and strategic efforts, coupled with its swift coordination with the team and with IP rights holders, the NCIPR members were able to ensure the success of its seizure operations,” Barba said.

‘Go Lokal, go original’

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary and NCIPR Chair Alfredo E. Pascual commended the NCIPR for its “remarkable dedication” to keep preserving the fairness and safety of markets.

“The NCIPR’s role is crucial for our economic progress. By eliminating illegal goods like counterfeits, markets operate fairly and safely, boosting consumer confidence and investor trust. Our zero-tolerance for illegal acts against IP infringement safeguards business creativity and innovation.” Pascual said.

The trade chief also urged consumers to stop patronizing counterfeit goods and turn to the comfort and quality of local products, instead.

“Counterfeit products do not only harm our economy but also pose serious health risks, particularly with essentials like food, medicines and cosmetics. I appeal to consumers to turn away from these fakes and choose genuine, locally-made products, ensuring  their hard-earned money brings real value and supports our community,” Pascual added.

More value, not equal to more counterfeiting

IPOPHL’s IP Rights Enforcement Office Supervising Director Christine V. Pangilinan-Canlapan clarified that “a significant number of seizures does not exclusively signify increased counterfeit trade in the country.”

“Relative to other nations that have low to zero values in counterfeit goods, a higher value of goods can simply mean we are doing our part in conducting seizure operations, that our close coordination with IP rights holders is bearing fruit in intercepting counterfeit trade and that we are transparent to the public about our operations,” Pangilinan-Canlapan added. 

Meanwhile, IP cases prosecuted at the courts declined to 205 from 291 in 2022. However, despite the decline in prosecuted cases, data from the Department of Justice (DOJ) show that the conviction rate or the share of convictions to the total cases disposed rose to 17.07% from 7.90%.   

“The increased convictions show that there is more substantial evidence gathered and presented against an IP infringer,” Pangilinan-Canlapan explained. IPOPHL’s Barba urged fellow NCIPR members to continue taking a proactive approach and more aggressive efforts in disrupting counterfeit trade in both physical and online markets, noting that “rights holders need the NCIPR more than ever amid the vast and fast-changing landscape of e-commerce.”

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