In photo: IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba
By Victoria “NIKE” De Dios
Cognizant of the struggles of MSMEs in the country during the start of the pandemic and until now wherein the government continues to find solutions to the struggles of many business owners.
While we know that striking the perfect balance between lives and livelihood is a daunting task, IPOPHL gears up to contribute to the recovery of MSME it celebrates National IP Month 2021.
In the virtual media launching this afternoon, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) has officially opened National Intellectual Property (IP) Month 2021, a celebration which the agency is dedicating to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), particularly in enabling them to integrate IP into their business strategy and realize their competitiveness in the pandemic and beyond.
“With the theme ”IP and MSMEs: Our Road to Recovery,” our National IP Month 2021 will all be about our MSMEs and our under-resourced inventors and artists,” IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba said at an April 5 virtual press conference which officially commenced the celebration.
“Our month-long celebration will be devoted to driving more MSMEs to create, protect and commercially optimize their IPs; help them integrate IP strategies into their business models; and eventually realize the exclusive rewards and competitive advantage one enjoys from IP,” Barba said.
The IPOPHL chief emphasized that MSMEs’ recovery is vital to the recovery of the whole nation as the sector comprises over 99% of Philippine businesses and employs about 63% of the local workforce.
Citing the Department of Trade and Industry’s estimates, Barba added that MSMEs were contributing 40% to the gross domestic product (GDP).
“So until the time our MSMEs have fully recovered, we cannot say with high zest the words, ‘We have healed as one,’” Barba said.
The IPOPHL chief is also pinning hopes on the MSME sector to help drive filings back to pre-pandemic level.
In 2018, MSMEs accounted for some 47% of total filings. Per type of IP, the sector represented 10% of total applications for patents; 85% for utility models; 35% for industrial designs; and 50% for trademarks.
Widening programs’ impact on MSMEs
Barba added IPOPHL will be pushing MSMEs and independent inventors and artists to explore global opportunities and take advantage of its international filing services and programs, namely the Inventor Assistance Program (IAP) and the recently extended Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) Assistance Program.
The IAP bridges under-resourced inventors to IP experts and lawyers for free legal advice on global patent protection. Meanwhile, the PCT Assistance Program, which has helped 24 resident filers to be protected in various international markets, is an application fee waiver program that also offers technical guidance on the PCT process.
In all, Barba said IPOPHL will strive to expand the reach of its MSME-tailored programs to hasten the achievement of an inclusive recovery.
Among these programs are the Juana Make a Mark program, which waives application fees for MSMEs led by women. The program has benefited almost 3,000 MSMEs and has been extended to benefit 1,000 more MSMEs and women.
Meanwhile, the Office’s IP Depot is an online marketplace that features 50 MSMEs with IP products being promoted to potential buyers or investors.
IPOPHL said it is also aggressively promoting its free online learning workshops, such as its monthly webinar series called LEAP IP––short for Learn, Be Empowered, Adopt and Profit from IP––where participants learn the basics of the IP system.
Advance courses are also offered through the LEAP IP – Forward series which are tailored to the needs of different sectors.
“This National IP Month we hope we can gather more MSMEs to take advantage of these programs. To this day, there remains low awareness and appreciation among MSMEs of what IP can do for their businesses and for economic, social, cultural and technological development. It’s time to change this culture and mindset,” Barba added.