The problem with fake products

Strong IP enforcement is required if we are to ensure a robust IP system that would benefit our people as we build a more innovative and progressive future for our country

September 12, 2022

In April this year, the government swooped down on the Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan City in an operation that netted P63-million worth of possibly counterfeit goods.

The operation was initiated by Louis Vuitton and conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation, a member of the National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights, which the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines leads as acting chair.

Greenhills has always had a reputation for being the place where you can buy counterfeit goods. In fact, this place is the lone Philippine market flagged in the United States Trade Representative’s Notorious Markets List for Counterfeiting and Piracy.

Counterfeit selling is perpetrated at more problematic levels online. Of the IP violation complaints and reports received by our IP Rights Enforcement Office, about 90 percent happens online.

One of these reports made possible an NBI raid operation that trended wildly online and in the media last year. The operation, which hauled P87.5 million worth of possibly fake luxury goods including LVs, happened in the middle of a live selling event viewed by hundreds of netizens!

In the same year, NCIPR recorded its biggest seizure of counterfeit goods in its 13 years of existence, with a haul amounting to P24.9 billion. This surpassed the previous record of P23.6 billion worth of counterfeit goods seized in 2018.

I’m relating this story to our readers to show that with the economic slowdown our country experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic, the buying and selling of counterfeit and pirated products seem to have worsened.

Thus, IPOPHL through its IEO has been working closely with other members of the NCIPR to address the increase in buying and selling of counterfeit and pirated goods through more aggressive IP rights enforcement actions.

For one, we’ve been engaging with universities, local government units and government agencies to draft an Anti-Counterfeit and Anti-Piracy policy to institutionalize the protection of IP rights.

Next year, we hope to launch a manual for the disposal of seized counterfeit and pirated goods. The manual will establish a clear, comprehensive and standardized IP rights enforcement practice and records to support enforcement actions.

What’s more, since the start of the year, IPOPHL has been conducting capacity -building workshops for law enforcement agents, public prosecutors and local government units across the country. This effort is part of our broader work to improve enforcement strategies at the grassroots.

Targeting the Filipino youth, the NCIPR conducted an online logo contest to further strengthen its advocacy. The ASEAN Network of IP Enforcement Experts also held poster-making and video contests for nationals or residents of ASEAN member states to raise IP awareness.

Of course, NCIPR member -agencies continue to conduct raids and seizure operations. For example, the Philippine National Police and the Food and Drug Administration seized P3.5 million worth of counterfeit medicines in a raid in Ozamiz City last March.

Counterfeiting and piracy can lead to substantial losses in government revenues, tempered foreign investor interest, reduced employment in legitimate enterprises, poor quality products and serious threat to the health and safety of the public.

As such, strong IP enforcement is required if we are to ensure a robust IP system that would benefit our people as we build a more innovative and progressive future for our country.

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