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IPOPHL Creates Geographical Markers to Enhance Unique Products

To increase the protection of geographical indications (GI) products in the Philippines, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) has issued implementing rules and regulations (IRR) on geographical indications (GI)

“Supporting these goods to have the global spotlight they deserve, will make a tangible difference in the lives of our farmers, our weavers and all who make up our GI landscape,” said Rowel S. Barba, Director General, IPOPHL.

The IRR, drafted by the Bureau of Trademarks, attempts to implement the 1997 IP Code’s recognition of GIs as protectable intellectual property. It will also satisfy the Philippines’ commitment as a member of the World Trade Organisation to give reciprocal rights and protection for GIs to other members. Hopefully, it will be finalised and implemented soon, making unique and high-quality Philippine items more appealing.

The proposed IRR defines GIs as any indication that identifies a good as originating in a territory, area, or location, and where a given quality, reputation, or other characteristics of the good are primarily related to its geographical origin and human factors.

According to the draft, GI registrants have the right to restrict their products from being used in the following ways:

  • Misleading the public as to the geographical origin of the goods;
  • Falsely representing to the public that the goods originate in another territory;
  • For wines or spirits, using in translation or accompanied by expressions such as “kind,” “type,” “style,” “imitation,” “method,” “as produced in” or other similar qualifying terms;
  • For agricultural products, foodstuff and any product of handicraft or industry, using in translation or accompanied by expressions such as “Kind,” “type,” “style,” “imitation,” “method,” “as produced in” or other similar qualifying terms, if such use would be misleading to the public;
  • Constituting an act of unfair competition as defined by the Paris Convention; and
  • Any other use similar or analogous to the above.

On the other hand, the Bureau of Trademarks has the authority to withdraw a trademark registration for the following reasons:

  • The protection requirements have not been met;
  • The requirements for protection have not been met;
  • The geographical origin of things has shifted, taking into account both natural and human factors;
  • a court or tribunal determines that the designated producer has no effective control over the use of the GI, the items’ manufacturing standards, or other product requirements;
  • GI registration was obtained using misleading claims and documents during the application process; and
  • It has been established that a recognised or protected geographical indicator exists.

IPOPHL Assists Highland Provinces in Achieving GI Registration

IPOPHL recently aided several producers in Benguet (one of the provinces and tourist destinations in the Philippines) in taking the first steps toward registering their unique local products as geographical indications (GIs) in order to increase marketability and worldwide reach.

A workshop titled “Origin-Based Branding of Benguet Products and Services” was held with the goal of assisting Benguet brands and various products and services in gaining more market impact and recall, particularly in the international market, where products with quality and a good story thrive – with GI protection. Strawberry, cacao, coffee, and handicrafts, all of which are well-known in Benguet, are being studied by IPOPHL.

In the Philippines, GIs are protected by the Trademarks section of the Intellectual Property Code of 1997. The well-known Guimaras Mangoes and the Tau Sebu T’nalak, both registered as collective marks, are potential GIs.

Camiguin Lanzones, Davao Cacao, Kalinga Coffee, Antique’s Bagtason Loom, Aurora’s Sabutan Weave, Samar’s Basey Banig, Basilan and Zamboanga’s Yakan cloth, and, most recently, Masbate meat and Baguio Strawberry are among the others.

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