Rules for IP based on geography prepared

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The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) has drafted implementing rules and regulations on geographical indications (GIs), which essentially identify a good in a specific locality, in an attempt to strengthen the protection of these products in the country.

The regulation, drafted by the Trademark Office, is intended to comply with the recognition of GIs as “protectable” intellectual property under the law. It will also fulfill the Philippines’ obligation as a member of the World Trade Organization to provide reciprocal rights and GI protection to other members.

In a recent statement, IPOPHL said the draft defines GI as “any indication that identifies a good as originating in a territory, region, or locality, where a given quality, reputation, or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographic origin and/or or human factors.”

Competitive advantage

IPOPHL, citing the draft, said it is important to protect GIs as it is vital to the competitive advantage of local and indigenous products. The protection of a GI is not subject to a certain period and will remain valid unless its registration is cancelled.

According to the draft, registrants will have the right to prevent their products from being misused by other interested parties, such as a false representation that the good actually comes from somewhere else, among other cases. GIs in the Philippines are protected under the trademark section of the 1997 Intellectual Property Code. The popular Guimaras Mangoes and the Tau Sebu “T’nalak”, registered as collective marks, are identified as potential GIs.

multiple products

Other possible examples are Bicol Pili, Davao Pomelo, Cordillera Heirloom Rice; Camiguin “Lanzones”; cocoa from Davao; Kalinga Coffee; Antique Bagtason Loom; sabutan fabric from Aurora; Basey Banig from Samar; Yakan cloth from Basilan and Zamboanga; and, more recently, the Masbate veal and the Baguio Strawberry.

“We look forward to finalizing and implementing the [regulations] soon so that we can make our unique and high-quality Filipino products more attractive. Supporting these products to get the global attention they deserve will make a tangible difference in the lives of our farmers, our weavers and everyone who makes up our GI landscape,” said CEO Rowel Barba.

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