ANALYSING THE INTERPLAY BETWEEN THE RIGHT TO HEALTH AND PHARMACEUTICAL PATENT RIGHTS IN THE INTRODUCTION OF A COVID-19 VACCINE INTO THE PHILIPPINES

By Mario C. Cerilles, Jr. and Harry Gwynn Omar M. Fernan

The road to a COVID-19 vaccine is complex. The Philippines is governed by an intellectual property system that has been accused of institutional problems such as slow registration procedures (Barizah, 2017). There is therefore a need to explore ways through which a COVID-19 vaccine can be made readily accessible without violating the constraints set by the governing patent system. The paper seeks to accomplish this by tracing the conflict between the right to health and patent law, applying the flexibilities for patents, and analysing policies during the pandemic. Posted below is a summary of our findings:

  1. I. FINDINGS
  2. A. Purchase from Patent Holder

The Philippines may purchase a COVID-19 vaccine from innovator pharmaceuticals or governments holding patent rights on a vaccine. However, this route may be costly. Notably, U.S. based company Moderna made deals with some countries for its experimental coronavirus vaccine for prices that range between $32 to $37 per dose (NPR.org, 2020). Using this estimate, the Philippines will have to spend more than Php 150 billion in order to vaccinate its population of more than 100 million. This figure is already equivalent to the entire budget of the country’s health department (Department of Health, 2020).

B. Parallel Importation

The country may also import from countries selling COVID-19 vaccines at a lower price. Leading pharmaceutical companies are already farming out the production of vaccines to India and China. For instance, The Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest supplier of vaccines to developing countries, is currently developing the vaccine candidates of AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Codagenix (Blankenship, 2020). Considering the low production costs in these countries (Lomas, 2017), the vaccines produced therein could cost much less than those in other countries. Nevertheless, it must be noted that pharmaceutical companies may still prevent licensees from exporting COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines through contractual restrictions.

C. Compulsory licensing through local manufacturing

The Philippines is still in the process of developing its local vaccine manufacturing capability. In fact, the government has allocated Php 284 million in its 2021 budget for the development of a virology institute (Venzon, 2020). However, despite these initiatives, the Philippines still has no established vaccine manufacturing capability (Venzon, 2020). It has to enlist the help of other countries or pharmaceutical companies in the production of an effective COVID-19 vaccine. Notably, Russia previously offered to co-manufacture its COVID-19 vaccine in the Philippines (Reuters, 2020). To pursue this, the Philippines will have to procure a voluntary license or a compulsory license from the patent owner of the vaccine (TRIPS Agreement, 2017).

D. Compulsory licensing under Article 31bis of the TRIPS Agreement

Taking into account its depleted funds and limited capability in manufacturing vaccines, the Philippines may also opt to file a compulsory license to allow the importation of generic COVID-19 vaccines. Unlike parallel importation under the Cheaper Medicines Act which allows the entry of patented products that are produced and marketed elsewhere without the need for a compulsory license (Roma Drug vs. RTC, 2009), this process requires a voluntary or compulsory license (2008). Under this rule, a country like the Philippines which holds limited or no manufacturing capability, may apply for a compulsory license to import a generic version of the patented product in order to supply the needs of its domestic market (TRIPS Agreement, 2017).

E. Challenges for Flexibilities

i. Limited Supply and Production

Although flexibilities make it easier for developing countries like the Philippines to secure potential COVID-19 vaccines, there is a possibility that they may not even come into operation. There is uncertainty as to whether there will be enough vaccines to cater to the global population. Manufacturers have already expressed concern about the lack of raw materials for novel COVID-19 vaccines (Jingyi & Yeping, 2020). Initiatives like the COVAX facility could enable the country to secure potential vaccines, albeit in limited amounts, in the event that flexibilities end up not being immediately implemented (Gavi, 2020).

ii. Outdated Rules

Even assuming that enough vaccines are produced, it remains to be seen if the Philippines will be able to implement the flexibilities properly during the pandemic. To illustrate, as of writing, the Philippine government does not yet provide a clear procedure for special compulsory licenses for the importation of drugs and medicines. Fortunately, the IPOPHL and the DOH recently released an initial set of guidelines  (Draft Adminstrative Order, 2020) that could speed-up the process for compulsory licensing and lower the prices of medicine.

II. COVID-19 and Emergency Powers

            The government’s response to the current pandemic gives us an idea on how the government will attempt to balance the right to health and pharmaceutical patent rights. The Duterte administration has invoked the right to health as basis for a number of recent controversial policies. To illustrate, the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (2020) has reportedly paved the way for the warrantless arrest of government critics (Conde, 2020). The government also curtailed the right to travel as it temporarily suspended the deployment of health workers to other countries (Governing Board Resolution No. 09 Series of 2020, 2020). These instances show that the government might not hesitate to sacrifice intellectual property rights in favour of public health.

III. CONCLUSION

For the Philippines to obtain access to a potential vaccine at the fastest possible time and at the most adequate amounts, it should utilize the flexibilities allowed by intellectual property laws. At the same time, it has to brace itself for the consequences of availing these flexibilities (e.g.  sanctions and payment of royalties). The country should also think long-term and start enhancing itsR&D capabilities.Most importantly, it has to cultivate the support of an engaged citizenry that is vigilant of government responses to public health issues.

Note: The article above is a summarized version of the conceptual paper which was published in the International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare last 5 March 2021. You may access the full article here: https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/IJHRH-09-2020-0075/full/html

If you have comments or questions, please feel free to e-mail the authors at inquiry@cfiplaw.com

Why—or why not—Cha-cha?

Cha-cha, or Charter change, has always been a controversial subject. A survey conducted in mid-2018 revealed that majority of Filipinos were against amending the Constitution, and this unpopularity may have historical underpinnings. Many Filipinos still recall how former President Ferdinand Marcos passed the 1973 Constitution through a haphazard process that what was widely viewed as an attempt to prolong his stay in power. This move gained even more notoriety as the Supreme Court upheld the document’s validity in the landmark case of Javellana vs Executive Secretary. Marcos was eventually deposed, but the negative perceptions of Cha-cha continued, plaguing many outgoing presidents from Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to Benigno Aquino III.

Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/137209/why-or-why-not-cha-cha#ixzz6oV7QzVpt

Do you have to pay whenever you play Christmas songs in public?

With the holidays fast approaching, we are once again exposed to familiar songs that warm our Christmas-loving hearts. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to catch Mariah’s All I Want for Christmas is you, Britney’s My Only Wish (This Year), and Jose Mari Chan’s Christmas in our Hearts (and uhm, a bunch of his other songs), playing in our favourite malls, stores and restaurants. 

To many customers, listening to Christmas songs is a pleasant experience. And if you happen to own a store, it is tempting to play these songs in order to attract visitors. After all, studies show that listening to certain songs could affect purchasing behaviour.[1] However, how do you know if a song could be played to the public, free-of-charge?

I. Applicable Laws

Songs are covered by copyright. Our law treats musical compositions as original intellectual creations that are protected from the moment of creation.[2] For instance, song composers hold exclusive rights to public performances of their works.[3] Performers, producers of sound recordings and broadcast organizations also hold other exclusive rights over the publication of their respective works.[4] As a consequence, an establishment may have to secure licenses and pay royalties in the form of license fees in order to play copyrighted songs in public.[5] Failure to do so may result in a finding of infringement, which entails imprisonment for one to three years and payment of a fine ranging from P50,000 to P150,000 for the first offense alone.[6]

II. Exceptions

It must be noted, however, that the Intellectual Property Code lists down a number of limitations to this rule. Some acts are not considered as infringement. An example is where the recitation or performance is made strictly for a charitable institution and involves a work that has previously been lawfully made accessible to the public.[7] There is also no infringement where the use of copyrighted works amounts to fair use, as when a song is played in public for purposes like research, criticism and teaching.[8]  Notably, a recent case decided by the Court of Appeals went further and held that certain food service and drinking establishments that have  limited areas, seating capacities and speakers, are exempted from paying license fees.[9] It remains to be seen, however, whether the Supreme Court will adopt this ruling.

III. Public Domain

Most importantly, not all songs are subject to copyright. In a case, the Supreme Court held that although playing the combo in a restaurant for the purpose of entertaining and amusing customers are acts constitutive of performance for profit as contemplated by our Copyright Law, there can be no infringement if the songs played form part of the public domain.[10] Songs, whose copyright protection have already expired, move to the public domain and may henceforth be played and performed in public without liability.[11] Examples of these are Christmas classics like Jingle Bells, We Wish You a Merry Christmas and Silent Night.[12] In the Philippines, copyright protection over a work generally extends until 50 years after the author’s death.[13]

In summary, if you wish to impart the Christmas vibe to your customers, it would be wise to apply for the necessary licenses or to simply choose songs that are available in the public domain. Better yet, why not create your own Christmas jingles?

For questions regarding this article, please email us at inquiry@cfiplaw.com.

Note: The article above is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.


[1] https://www.psychologistworld.com/behavior/ambient-music-retail-psychological-arousal-customers.

[2] Sec. 172.1 (f) IP Code (1997).

[3] Sec. 177.6 IP Code (1997).

[4] Secs. 203, 208, 211 IP Code (1997).

[5] https://filscap.org/frequently-asked-questions/.

[6] Secs. 217.1 (a) IP Code (1997).

[7] Sec. 184.1 IP Code (1997).

[8] Sec. 185.1 IP Code (1997).

[9] https://www.manilastandard.net/lgu/luzon/237697/ca-upholds-ruling-vs-filscap.html.

[10] Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Inc. vs Benjamin Tan, G.R. No. L-36402.

[11] https://www.ipophil.gov.ph/news/how-to-perform-and-play-songs-in-public-the-legal-way/.

[12] https://library.osu.edu/site/copyright/2018/12/21/public-domain-christmas-songs/.

[13] Sec. 213.1 IP Code (1997).

Protecting Your Product Design

Did you recently create your own furniture, or accessories? Perhaps you handcrafted your own bags and shoes? If so, your creations are covered by industrial design, copyright, or trademark.

Industrial Design (or Design Patent)

A new and ornamental design may be registered as an industrial design.[1] Such registration entitles you to the exclusive use of the design for as long as fifteen years.[2] Industrial design registration can protect the designs of handicrafts, jewelries and computer components, among others.[3]

Patent or Utility Model 

Meanwhile, a design that pertains primarily to the functional aspect of a product, as opposed to being mere ornamentation, may be registered as an invention or a utility model. For example, a chair that is ergonomically designed to make long hours of sitting more comfortable may only be registered as an invention[4] or a utility model[5] even if its design also looks aesthetically pleasing. However, if the design serves as mere ornamentation (e.g., carvings or paintings on the chair’s legs) an industrial design registration is applicable.

Copyright Protection (Work of Applied Art)

A “work of applied art” is an artistic creation having utilitarian functions that are incorporated in a useful article.[6] Original ornamental designs or models for articles of manufacture, even if registrable as industrial designs, are entitled to copyright protection.[7] A useful article, however, may be copyrighted only to an extent where its pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features could be identified separately from its functional aspects. [8]

In 2019, the Taiwan IP Court ruled that Céline and Givenchy handbag designs are not copyrightable because they are primarily functional and they lack some required artistic features.[9] This is consistent with a past decision by our Supreme Court which recognized copyright protection only to works of applied art that have aesthetic features which are separable from its utilitarian aspects.[10]

Three-Dimensional Mark or Trade Dress

A product design may also be protected by a trademark. A mark is any visible sign capable of distinguishing products including a stamped or marked container of goods.[11] A sachet of a coffee, a bottle of a beer, and even the overall shape and appearance of a chocolate, even if registrable as industrial designs, may be registered as trademarks. Below are examples of three-dimensional marks or containers which have been registered as trademarks in the Philippines:

[12]        [13][14]

Summary

Product design is a complex process that involves artistic and functional consideration. New product designs may be protected by industrial design, patent, utility model, copyright, and trademark. You just need to identify the kind of protection that best suits your needs.

For questions regarding this article, email us at inquiry@cfiplaw.com.

Note: The article above is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.


[1] Sec. 113.1, IP Code (1997).

[2] Sec. 118, IP Code (1997).

[3] Sec. 113.3, IP Code (1997).

[4] An invention patent requires that an additional requirement of inventiveness or non-obviousness.

[5] Sec. 113.2, IP Code (1997).

[6] Sec. 171.10, IP Code (1997).

[7] Sec. 172.1 (h), IP Code (1997).

[8] Ching vs. Salinas, G.R. No. 161295, 29 June 2005.

[9] https://www.mondaq.com/patent/875930/can-a-bag-design-be-copyrighted

[10] Ching vs. Salinas, G.R. No. 161295, 29 June 2005.

[11] Sec. 121.1, IP Code (1997).

[12] Trademark Registration No. 14479 in the name of Elite Gold Ltd.

[13] Trademark Registration No. 123914 in the name of AB Heineken Philippines Inc.

[14] Trademark Registration No. 41997123133 in the name of Mondelez Europe GmbH.

Are those secret recipes protected?

Among the consequences of the ongoing community quarantine is the avalanche of home-baked goods that suddenly became available at our doorsteps. As our favourite restaurants closed down, talented chefs and bakers strived to continue satisfying our food cravings. However, do you ever wonder if the secretly kept recipes for these goods are protected from copycats? Let us explore ways by which our laws protect those recipes:

  1. Trade Secrets and Contracts

We believe that secret recipes may fall under the category of “trade secrets”. Trade secrets include secret formulas or non-patented processes, used in the creation of commercially valuable products, which are known only to the individuals using them.[1] Relatedly, our Intellectual Property Code (IP Code) explicitly mentions the protection of undisclosed information. However, it does not prescribe specific means by which to protect such information.

One way to protect recipes from third parties is through contracts such as non-disclosure agreements. These are particularly helpful for restauranteurs whose staff members regularly handle secret recipes. Notably, laws such as the Philippine Competition Act and the Consumer Act of the Philippines have effectively recognized the validity of agreements that protect trade secrets.[2]

  1. Patent or Utility Model (UM)

Theoretically, patents could be used to protect recipes. However, due to strict requirements,[3] they are often availed of only by scientists and food technologists.  To begin with, it must be shown that a recipe involves a step that will result to non-obvious results.[4] However, many recipes do not satisfy this requirement. Merely adding sugar to a cookie recipe, for instance, is expected to make the cookie sweeter and, is therefore not patentable. Similarly, applying for a UM would be a challenge due to the requirement of novelty.[5] For recipes to be registrable as UMs, they should be new, or they should not have been previously made available to the public.[6] Unfortunately, most recipes are obvious variations of past recipes.

  1. Copyright

A U.S. Court once considered recipes that were attached to a food product, as original compositions that were copyrightable.[7] However, the strength of this decision has waned over the years and a recent decision has held that a recipe that is not accompanied by substantial literary expression is not copyrightable.[8] In either case, copyright protection extends only to the recipe as expressed on a certain medium (i.e., paper). It does not prevent anyone from following a recipe and replicating a certain food product, making one wonder if disclosing the recipe in a cookbook is even advisable.[9]

  1. Trademarks

Trademarks do not protect recipes. However, they could be used to protect the packaging for goods.[10] Considering that some food packages are so unique that they become synonymous with famous goods (think Toblerone), trademarks remain very useful to business owners.

Currently, there are calls to give ample protection to trade secrets through the enactment of a comprehensive trade secret law. It is unclear, however, whether this will ever happen. In the meantime, we just have to rely on other remedies.

For questions regarding this article, please email us at inquiry@cfiplaw.com.

Note: The article above is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.


[1] Air Philippines Corporation vs. Pennswell, Inc., G.R. No. 172835

[2] R.A. 10667, Section 15(e)(2)

[3] https://www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/newsletter/inventors-eye/can-recipes-be-patented

[4] Intellectual Property Code, Section 26

[5] Intellectual Property Code, Section 109.1

[6] Intellectual Property Code, Section 23

[7] Fargo Mercantile Co. v. Brechet & Richter Co., 295 F. 823 (8th Cir. 1924)

[8] Barbour v. Head, 178 F. Supp. 2d 758 (S.D. Tex. 2001)

[9] https://www.bradley.com/insights/publications/2019/07/intellectual-property-protection-for-recipes

[10] https://cfiplaw.com/2020/10/can-your-trademark-be-registered/; Sec. 121, IP Code of the Philippines.

Are Online Shopping Sites Liable for the Sale of Fake Products?

The COVID-19 pandemic has popularized online shopping as a convenient and safe mode of buying goods. More and more buyers prefer purchasing goods online. As a result, companies have started selling products through their websites.

Additionally, online purchases can be made via third parties through social media pages (Facebook/Instagram) and online shopping sites (Lazada/Shopee). However, recent reports on sales of supposedly counterfeit goods have revealed the dangers of online shopping.[1]

 Liability of Online Shopping Sites

Under the Philippine Intellectual Property Code (I.P. Code), any person who sells products that bear the registered mark of another, without the latter’s consent, is liable for trademark infringement.[2] For instance, the owner of an Instagram page that sells counterfeit products may be held liable for infringement. With respect to online shopping sites, however, ascribing liability becomes tricky. Many sites disclaim liability by alleging that they act as mere intermediaries that bring sellers and buyers together.

Other Jurisdictions

A landmark case in Europe has held that online sites are indeed liable for selling counterfeit products.[3] It ruled that these platforms could not disclaim liability if they fail to act expeditiously after (1) playing an active role in the promotion or sale of the trade-marked goods, or (2) gaining knowledge of facts or circumstances that should have put them on notice that the offers for sale were unlawful.[4]

In the U.S, it was held that online marketplaces are not liable for sales of counterfeit items if they did not have knowledge of specific infringing sellers or listings.[5] However, in another case, Court subsequently held an online marketplace liable even if the infringed brands did not send formal take-down notices to the seller.[6] Another was held liable for failing to send an email blast which would have curtailed acts of infringement.[7]  

Philippines

The DTI has advocated for legislation that would make online platforms liable for selling counterfeit products.[8] Senate Bill No. 1591 seeks to regulate e-commerce in the Philippines by penalizing online merchants and shopping platforms who sell fake or unregistered items, with a fine equivalent to a hundred percent of the amount of the counterfeit goods offered.[9] Considering that there is still no settled jurisprudence on this matter, such proposal is a welcome development. Nevertheless, we believe that a penalty equivalent to the value of the counterfeit product is a mere slap on the wrist. Congress can certainly do more to protect consumers!

What to do when you receive a counterfeit product

Despite the vacuum in our laws, there are ways to make companies accountable for selling fake products. One way is to alert the online platform that one of their sellers is advertising fake products. Doing so would prompt them to conduct and investigation and possibly blacklist the guilty seller. More importantly, it would render them unable to raise the defense of lack of knowledge regarding the sale of fake products. Notably, popular sites like Lazada and Shopee provide ways for consumers to chat with their customer care teams. One can even go further and alert the owners of the products that other sellers are infringing upon their brands.

Can you reject or return the product?

The short answer to this is yes. The sale of a counterfeit product is a criminal act [10] which should not be condoned nor tolerated. Aside from the I.P. Code, the Consumer Act allows a buyer to file a case against sellers who are guilty of false advertising.[11] Surely, one should never be forced to accept the product of a criminal offense.

For questions regarding this article, email us at inquiry@cfiplaw.com.


Note: The article above is for informational purposes only and does not constitute
legal advice.


[1] https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1122237; https://news.abs-cbn.com/business/10/23/15/why-etude-house-distributor-sued-lazada.

[2] Sec. 155, Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, Rep. Act No. 8293.

[3] Case C-324/09, L’Oréal SA v. eBay Int’l AG, 2011 E.C.R. I-6011.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Tiffany (NJ) Inc. v. eBay Inc., 600 F.3d 93 (2nd Cir. 2010)

[6] Chloé SAS et al. v. Sawabeh Information Services Co. et al., Civil Action No. 2:11-cv-04147 (C.D. Cal.).

[7] 1-800 Contacts, Inc. v. Lens.com, Inc., 722 F.3d 1229 (10th Cir. 2013).

[8] https://cnnphilippines.com/news/2019/10/8/DTI-counterfeit-online-shopping.html.

[9] https://news.abs-cbn.com/business/09/03/20/gatchalian-wants-online-shopping-apps-penalized-for-sale-of-fake-items.

[10] Sec. 170, Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, Rep. Act No. 8293.

[11] Article 123 in relation to Article 110, Consumer Act of the Philippines, Rep. Act No. 7394.

Can Your Trademark Be Registered?

If you own a business, chances are, you are already using trademarks on your products. However, do you know if those trademarks are registrable?

A trademark is used to associate a product with a business. Overtime, a trademark could become so popular that customers would look for it when they are looking for a product of a certain quality. Therefore as an identifier, a trademark must be uncommon and cannot be confusingly similar to other trademarks.

Generic and Descriptive Marks are Unregistrable

Generally, a mark is not registrable if it is generic[1] or merely descriptive.[2]  To illustrate, the word “PEN” may not be used as a trademark for pens and the word “BRIGHT” may not be used for light bulbs. Allowing the registration of these marks would prevent others from fairly using generic and descriptive terms as labels to describe their products. Nevertheless, a common word may be used as a mark for an unrelated product. For example, the word “APPLE”, though common, may be used as a trademark for phones. Another option is to opt for more distinctive terms which do not have common dictionary meanings such as “XEROX” for photocopiers.[3]

Other Unregistrable Marks

A trademark is also unregistrable if it consists of immoral, deceptive or scandalous matter,[4] or if it is contrary to public order.[5] A mark may be disallowed if it disparages or falsely suggests a connection with persons, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols.[6] For example, the flag of a country is unregistrable.[7] Similarly, signs or of indications that have become customary or usual as product designations in everyday language or in established trade practices are unregistrable.[8] Thus, a barber’s pole may not be registered as a trademark for barbershops because it has become a customary mark for barbershops. Other unregistrable marks include colors (unless defined by a given form),[9] misleading marks,[10] and marks consisting of shapes necessitated by technical factors or by the nature of goods, such as figure of water drops for water products.[11]

Marks Identical or Confusingly Similar to Registered or Internationally Well-Known Marks

Furthermore, a mark may not be registered if it is identical or if it is confusingly similar to a previously registered mark (or one with an earlier filing date)[12] or to an internationally well-known mark.[13] For this purpose, an internationally well-known mark does not have to be registered in the Philippines in order to gain protection. However, such protection is conditioned upon a prior declaration by either the Bureau of Legal Affairs, the Office of the Director General of the Intellectual Property Office or the Courts, that such mark is internationally well-known.[14]

To determine if a trademark has already been registered by others, you may check the trademark database of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines which is posted at https://www3.wipo.int/branddb/ph/en/.

For questions regarding the article “Can Your Trademark Be Registered”, you may email us at inquiry@cfiplaw.com.

Note: The article above is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.


[1] Sec. 123 (h), IP Code of the Philippines.

[2] Sec. 123 (j), IP Code of the Philippines.

[3] https://www.inta.org/fact-sheets/trademark-strength/, accessed on 25 September 2020.

[4] Sec. 123 (a), IP Code of the Philippines.

[5] Sec. 123 (m), IP Code of the Philippines.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Sec. 123 (b), IP Code of the Philippines.

[8] Sec. 123 (i), IP Code of the Philippines.

[9] Sec. 123 (l), IP Code of the Philippines.

[10] Sec. 123 (g), IP Code of the Philippines.

[11] Sec. 123 (k), IP Code of the Philippines.

[12] Sec. 123 (d), IP Code of the Philippines.

[13] Sec. 123 (e) and (f), IP Code of the Philippines.

[14] Dy vs. Philips Electronics, G.R. No. 186088, 22 March 2017.

4 Easy Steps to Follow in Registering Your Trademark

A mark is any visible sign that is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of an enterprise.[1] Company logos, marketing taglines, and even the entire packaging design on goods and services, are examples of trademarks. Some of the most famous brands in the market today are identified through their trademarks. For this reason, it is vital that you register your trademark. We outlined below simple steps to follow in registering your trademark.

1. SUBMIT. Make sure to have the following ready: your name and contact details, a reproduction of the mark that you wish to register, and a list of the goods or services that your mark would cover.[2] Other information could be necessary depending on your specific circumstances. You may then submit all relevant information to thePhilippine Intellectual Property Office (IPO).[3] With the pandemic, you might prefer filling-in these details through the online portal which can be accessed at https://www.ipophil.gov.ph/etm-file-trademark/.

2. PAY. As with other government transactions, filing trademark applications entail costs.[4]  Government fees could reach around Php 3,500 to 5,700.[5] Note that the IPO recently disallowed the option to pay manually through its office cashier. Instead, you may pay online through the IPO’s partner institutions such as Dragonpay.

3. RESPOND. After successful payment, the IPO will look into the sufficiency of the application,[6] and check if the trademark complies with the requisites for registrability.[7] Should the IPO need any clarification, it may send you a registrability report which contains questions concerning your application. You need to respond to this not later than two months from its mailing date.[8]

4. WAIT. Once the IPO is satisfied with your trademark application, it will issue a Notice of Allowance which will require you to pay the publication fees. Once paid, the IPO will cause the publication of the application in the IPO Trademark Electronic Gazette.[9] For a period of 30 days, any person who believes that he would be damaged by the registration may file an Opposition.[10] If nothing is filed or if the IPO denies the Opposition, you will receive a Notice of Issuance requiring you to pay the second publication fee and the fee for the issuance of the Certificate of Registration. Once paid, your Certificate of Registration will be issued.[11]

Register your trademark in four easy steps: submit, pay, respond and wait.

For questions regarding the article “4 Easy Steps to Follow in Registering your Trademark”, email us at inquiry@cfiplaw.com.

Note: The article above is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.


[1] Sec. 121, IP Code of the Philippines.

[2] Sec. 127.1, IP Code of the Philippines.

[3] Sec. 127.1, IP Code of the Philippines.

[4] Sec. 127.2, IP Code of the Philippines.

[5] https://www.ipophil.gov.ph/services/schedule-of-fees/trademark-related-fees/

[6] Sec. 132.1, IP Code of the Philippines.

[7] Sec. 123, IP Code of the Philippines.

[8] Rule 610, Implementing Rules and Regulations on Trademarks

[9] Sec. 133.5, IP Code of the Philippines.

[10] Sec. 134, IP Code of the Philippines.

[11] Sec. 136, IP Code of the Philippines.

Register the Trademark of your Home Business!

Trademark Brand Intellectual Property

As the pandemic started affecting the country, many Filipinos displayed their creativity by opening their own home businesses. Many families started selling food, goods, and services from the comfort of their homes. While these businesses began operating under extraordinary circumstances, it is important to remember that they are still subject to government rules. More importantly, they remain vulnerable to being copied!

Whether you are designing a wrapper for your baked goods, engraving the company logo on your products, or placing a marketing tagline on your services, chances are, you are making use of trademarks. A mark is any visible sign that is capable of distinguishing the goods (trademark) or services (service mark) of an enterprise.[1] These marks identify the source of the products, linking them to a specific enterprise.

 Once your business starts growing and your products begin earning loyal customers, others could attempt to get a free ride on your brand by copying your mark. We outline below the benefits of registering your mark and the actions you may take against those pesky copycats.

Acquire ownership over your mark. The Philippines adopts a first to file rule on trademark ownership.[2] Our Intellectual Property Code (IP Code) provides that the rights in a mark shall be acquired through registration.[3] Failure to register a mark enables others to register it under their name, making it prudent for businesses to register marks even before putting out  their products or services in the market.

Protect yourself from infringement cases. Trademark registration involves an examination process wherein a trademark that is being applied for is compared to other existing registered marks in the country. If the subject mark is found to be confusingly similar to any other mark, the application is rejected. Otherwise, a certificate of registration is issued. This certificate serves as prima facie evidence of ownership over the mark.[4]

Sue persons copying your mark. The registrant is entitled to the exclusive use of the mark on the goods or services specified in the certificate of registration.[5] Should others use the mark without consent, the registrant may file a criminal case for trademark infringement. Persons who are found guilty of infringement will suffer a penalty of imprisonment from two to five years and a fine ranging from P50,000 to P200,000.[6] Such persons may also be subjected to civil or administrative claims for monetary damages.

Prevent importation of counterfeit goods. A trademark registration may be recorded with the Bureau of Customs in order to ensure that no counterfeit goods bearing the mark would be imported into the Philippines.[7] The Bureau of Customs will issue an alert or hold order on goods that are suspected of infringing upon the registered mark.[8]  

Protect your business by investing on you trademark asset. Register your trademark now!

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[1] Sec. 121, IP Code of the Philippines.

[2] Sec. 123, IP Code of the Philippines.

[3] Sec. 122, IP Code of the Philippines.

[4] Sec. 138, IP Code of the Philippines.

[5] Sec. 138, IP Code of the Philippines.

[6] Sec. 170, IP Code of the Philippines.

[7] Customs Administrative Order No. 6-2002.

[8] Ibid.

Philippine Human Rights in the Time of Pandemic: Analyzing the Challenges to the Effectiveness of the Commission on Human Rights as an NHRI in the Midst of COVID-19

Created before the United Nations adopted the Paris Principles, and after a dictatorship engulfed the Philippines, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) seemed poised to lead NHRIs across the globe. The CHR, with its constitutional mandate, was seen as the long-term solution to the country’s human rights woes. However, the current pandemic has revealed cracks within the CHR’s system. This study will demonstrate that, despite its perceived strengths, the CHR suffers from institutional weaknesses that limit its effectiveness during the pandemic. An analysis of the international framework on NHRIs, the legal structure of the CHR, and the effects of the state of emergency on Philippine bureaucracy will reveal that structural deficiencies, such as lack of independence, an incomplete mandate, and inadequate investigatory powers, make the Philippine NHRI vulnerable at a time when it is needed most by Filipinos.