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The Philippines: revising the IP code to combat online piracy

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Editha Hechanova of Hechanova Group highlights the Philippines’ recent efforts to protect consumers from online piracy via tougher IP legislation

Fake goods. Fake mobile apps. Fake websites. Being ignored by online selling platforms. Omnipresent social media. All these pose big hurdles to brand owners when protecting their IP and promoting customer loyalty. Certainly, technology has made life easier, but it has also attracted sophisticated and more tech-savvy fraudsters. And government regulations have been inadequate or slow to meet those challenges to protect the public from the risks of inferior products, some of which endanger the lives, health and safety of consumers.

The good news is that on May 19 2023, after many years of delay, the House of Representatives of the Philippines Congress approved on the third and final reading of House Bill No. 7600. This gives additional powers to the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) to address the more prevalent or advanced forms of counterfeiting and piracy. This bill faces one more step, and that is the concurrence of the Senate, the upper house of Congress, before the president signs it into law.

The salient points of this proposed law are:

  • A clearer definition of the terms “counterfeit goods” and “pirated goods”;

  • Granting the IPOPHL visitorial powers involving establishments and businesses suspected of committing IP violation relative to counterfeit and pirated goods;

  • An increased ceiling of administrative fines from Pesos 150,000 to Pesos 1 million (about US$2,700 to US$18,000);

  • Granting the IPOPHL power, after due notice and hearing, to disable access to an online location whose primary purpose is to infringe copyright or facilitate copyright infringement. An online location refers to any single or collection of related web pages accessible by a user through a domain, IP address, or URL which serves to operate, in whole or in part, an application on the internet;

  • Giving the IPOPHL the power to formulate the procedure on inquiry for preventive action on online infringement according to the following standards:

    • (i) The party eligible to file the application for preventive action is the copyright owner or exclusive licensee;

    • (ii) Whether the online location makes available or contains directories, indexes, or categories of the means to infringe, or facilitate infringement of copyright;

    • (iii) Whether the owner or operator of the online location demonstrates a disregard for copyright generally; and

    • (iv) Whether access to the online location has been disabled from orders of any court of another country or territory on grounds related to copyright infringement.

  • Should the IPOPHL find that the application for such preventive action meets the requirements, it shall give notice to the person who operates such online location directly, or by public notice, and within five days from issuing said notice, shall render an order requiring the internet service providers to take reasonable steps to disable access to the infringing online location;

  • The internet service provider must comply with the disabling order within 48 hours of its issuance, and must disable the identified infringing online location by implementing an effective technical measure or a measure undertaken by the internet service provider to disable or prevent access to an infringing online location, and may include domain name system blocking, IP blocking, URL blocking, server name indicator blocking, or other means; and

  • The IPOPHL has 90 days from the effectiveness of the Act to promulgate the necessary rules and regulations for its implementation.

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