MANILA - The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines said on Thursday it is working on a plan to tackle the alleged counterfeiting activities at Greenhills Shopping Center which is once again included in the US Trade Representative's (USTR) 2022 Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy list.
The list highlights online and physical markets that reportedly engage in or facilitate counterfeiting or copyright piracy, IPOPHL said in a statement.
Last year's list was released on Jan. 31 and flagged 39 online markets and 33 physical markets worldwide, including Greenhills in San Juan, IPOPHL said.
Greenhills Shopping Center has over 2,000 indoor and outdoor stores famous for selling electronics, perfumes, watches, shoes, accessories and shopping items.
“While the shopping center’s continued inclusion in the list puts the Philippines’ reputation in effectively protecting intellectual property (IP) rights on the line, we are pleased to see that several positive developments in this case have been cited by the USTR,” IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba said.
Among them is the raid conducted in April 2022 by the National Bureau of Investigation, which seized $1.4 million worth of counterfeit luxury goods, according to the agency.
The USTR also cited Greenhill's willingness to collaborate with authorities, adding that the opening of its new 7-storey building in 2023 “will provide leverage to transition sellers of counterfeit goods into ‘legitimate’ seller," IPOPHL said.
However, USTR said targets of enforcement and suspensions for violation evade authorities by moving their stalls.
IPOPHL said its proposed plan to address counterfeiting is currently under review by the members of the National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR).
Major strategies include:
• Compelling the shopping center to implement stricter monitoring of their stalls
• Imposing heftier penalties against sellers of counterfeit products
• Coordinating with brand owners to submit Affidavits of Complaints to Greenhills to indicate their expression of filing a legal complaint and as notice to the mall’s management of potential violators
“Truly, clearing Greenhills of IP infringement activities will not be an easy feat. Its long-standing reputation as a market for Class As and Bs and pirated DVDs has cut across generations," Barba said.
"The problem demands the close and consistent collaboration among NCIPR members, local governments, brand owners and Greenhills – both its managers and vendors. Equally important is the role of consumers whom we continuously enlighten about the possible harms of counterfeiting to their health, lives and households, as well as to the environment and the economy in the bigger picture and longer term,” Barba added.
Meanwhile, San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora said the LGU would continue to fully implement all existing rules and regulations.
"We have met and I have warned them about this, so if ever they get caught for any violations, they will have to face the full force of the law," he said.
IPOPHL said it would draft separate work plans for Baclaran, Divisoria and Cartimar, which were cited in the European Commission's Counterfeit Piracy Watch List.
- with a report from Warren De Guzman, ABS-CBN News