The provisions on intellectual property (IP) under the recently signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement is expected to provide a balanced and inclusive approach to the protection and enforcement of IP rights in RCEP member countries, which include the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states, as well as Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
The commitments and obligations include harmonizing the protections for the standard suite of IP rights and protection beyond the level of the TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement, including provisions relating to technological protection measures and enforcement in the digital environment.
Even Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez lauded the IP Chapter, saying it will help push the country to become an innovation hub in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region.
“The IP Chapter of RCEP is an important element in promoting the region as the center of economic activities, while complementing the country’s drive to be one of the leading innovation hubs in Asia,” Lopez said.
On the other hand, Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) director General Rowel S. Barba said the country’s effort to achieve an outcome favorable to the country has paid off.
“We made sure that the RCEP Agreement is a showcase for enhancing protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights while affirming the country’s right to use the flexibilities under the World Trade Organization Agreement on TRIPS to respond to needs, such as public health concerns,” Barba said.
The RCEP agreement also recognizes the RCEP Members’ respective need for policy space in implementing some of the commitments under the agreement, such as protection to new plant varieties and geographical indications, among others.
It also included appropriate criminal procedures and penalties against unauthorized copying of a cinematographic work on a commercial scale.
Importantly, Filipinos seeking protection of their IP — including inventions, utility models, industrial designs and trademarks — within the RCEP region stand to benefit as the IP Chapter has provisions to streamline and align procedures such as those relating to electronic filing of applications and making relevant information available online.
The IP Chapter of RCEP is an important element in promoting the region as the center of economic activities, while complementing the country’s drive to be one of the leading innovation hubs in Asia.
Advantageous to MSME
These along with the obligation of some RCEP members to join international filing systems by acceding to the Patent Cooperation Treaty and the Madrid Protocol for trademarks will be advantageous to local businesses and industries, including the micro, small and medium enterprises.
In particular, these will give them access to protection for IP in all of the RCEP members at a lower cost and thus, becoming more competitive.
The branding strategies of local businesses and entrepreneurs will be bolstered as non-traditional trademarks — like sound marks — and will be eligible for protection in the region.
“Under the RCEP Agreement, Filipino authors, artists, composers and performers can now expect that their works can be protected and enforced under the same standards in the entire region.
Moreover, the provision on collective management organizations could potentially facilitate the collection and transfer of royalties due to them,” Philippine lead trade negotiator and DTI assistant secretary Allan Gepty said.