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Online phonies cost Phl $213M in taxes

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E-commerce platforms bridging mostly home quarantined Filipinos and the market at the height of the pandemic are now more exposed to pirates and counterfeiters, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) warned on Wednesday.

In Daily Tribune’s digital show “Straight Talk”, IPOPHL’s Enforcement Office (IEO) intellectual-property specialist Ace Acosta said reports against counterfeit products have soared to 121 cases in 2020 compared to just 100 from 2016 to 2019.

“Alleged counterfeiting incident reports are mostly posted on social media site Facebook at about 61 percent, (aside from) others on unpopular websites,” Acosta said.

“Counterfeiting reports involving popular e-commerce platforms like Shopee and Lazada (are also plenty). This January to June 2021, we already received more than a hundred reports and complaints pertaining to counterfeiting and piracy, 84 percent of which (were transacted) online. This proves that IP (intellectual property) criminals are indeed attacking the digital space,” Acosta said.

Acosta expressed that these reports mean more Filipinos are now alert about these cases and that they want to protect their IP.

The IPOPHL official said that based on a study by their European Union (EU) and Asian counterparts, upsurge in counterfeiting and piracy have already cost the Philippines $213-million in uncollected taxes.

With this, Acosta urged business owners, especially those in starting up, who experience counterfeiting and piracy to file a complaint to the IPOPHL, either via direct message (DM) through their Facebook page, or call directly to IPOPHL’s hotline, or thru the direct line of IPOPHL’s Enforcement Office available on the Internet.

Meanwhile, lawyer Daniel Hofileña advised consumers to be meticulous in transacting online by scrutinizing the products and brands they are purchasing.

“We have to refrain from patronizing counterfeited or pirated brands because they are stealing somebody else’s intellectual property. Buying them means you are supporting that kind of theft.

Fake products are not durable and dangerous, particularly medicines. These products put our health at risk and put our hard-earned money to waste,” Hofileña stressed.

This January to June 2021, we already received more than a hundred reports and complaints pertaining to counterfeiting and piracy, 84 percent of which were transacted online. This proves that IP criminals are indeed attacking the digital space.

They reminded the consumers to consider five Ps that differentiate an original from a counterfeit — packaging, price, product, promotional message, and place of purchase.

“The IPOPHL is currently coordinating and working closely with known e-commerce platforms such as Lazada, Shopee, Zalora to develop proactive measures rather than reactive actions, and to uphold the rights of our consumers and the IP rights of our Filipino business owners,” the officials maintained.

In a separate statement, IPOPHL Deputy Director General Teodoro C. Pascua said: “The fight against online counterfeiting and piracy is among the top priorities of IPOPHL. The Office, through its IEO, has been active in referring IP violation reports and engaging with brand owners. This event is another testament that we are proactive in empowering the rights holders to further promote and enforce IP rights especially in the online arena.”

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