RP stays in US piracy watchlist

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 02 2009 01:05 AM | Updated as of May 02 2009 09:05 AM

The United States has retained the Philippines on Special 301 program watchlist on intellectual property rights, citing weakness in patent protection, failure to address digital piracy and inability to establish deterrence against such act.

In a report released Thursday (Friday in Manila), the US Trade Representative (USTR) said the Philippines would be subject to an out-of-cycle review within the year to monitor its progress.

The USTR said the Philippines should put in place mechanisms and laws that will address the weaknesses in its current system, such as specialized IP courts and legislation to implement the international internet treaties provider under the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

The USTR specifically cited the need to address illegal camcording in the Philippines.

"The United States is troubled by the amendments to the patent provisions in the Philippines Intellectual Property Law only as they apply to pharmaceuticals. The amendment significantly weakens patent protection for pharmaceutical products," the report said.

The USTR also said despite the continuing efforts of local agencies, notably, in the Intellectual Property Office, Optical Media Board, and the Bureau of Customs to improve enforcement "there is no true deterrent mechanism in place to dissuade IPR infringers from their illegal activities."

The report also cited as a continuing challenge piracy in the digital environment as the government has not addressed peer-to-peer piracy, mobile device piracy, and illegal camcording.

The report identified several locations in Manila where pirated discs are regularly sold including the Quiapo district, Binondo, Greenhills, Makati Cinema Square and Metrowalk.

It noted that authorities have yet to prosecute landlords for allowing the sale of pirated materials in their establishments despite an executive order in 2006 that establishes landlord liability for tenants who sell pirated merchandise.

This is the fourth year the Philippines has been in the USTR Special 301 ordinary watch list after having been downgraded from priority watch list in 2006.