Rules for geographically-based intellectual property prepared

The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) has drafted implementing rules and regulations on Geographical Indications (GIs) – which essentially identify a good to a specific locality – with the aim of enhancing the protection of such products in the country.

The regulations, drafted by the Trademark Office, aim to ensure 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 “any indication that identifies a product as originating in a territory, region or locality, where a quality, reputation or other given characteristic of the product is essentially attributable to its geographical origin and/or human factors.

Competitive advantage

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

Under the draft, registrants will have the right to prevent their products from being misused by other stakeholders, such as a misrepresentation that the good actually originates from elsewhere, among other cases. In the Philippines, GIs are protected under the trademarks section of the Intellectual Property Code of 1997. The famous Guimaras mangoes and 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”; Davao Cocoa; Kalinga Coffee; Antique Bagtason Loom; Aurora’s sabutan; Basey Banig of Samar; the Yakan fabric from Basilan and Zamboanga; and, more recently, Beef Masbate and Strawberry Baguio.

“We hope that we can finalize and implement the [regulations] soon so that we can make our unique and high quality Filipino products more attractive. Supporting these products to get the global exposure they deserve will make a tangible difference in the lives of our farmers, weavers and all who make up our GI landscape,” said Managing Director Rowel Barba.

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