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IPOPHL to MSMEs: Maximise international Intellectual Property agreements to raise competitiveness in global market

The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines  (IPOPHL)is urging micro,small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) - which comprise 99 percent of all businesses in the country - to use the international agreements on intellectual property the Philippines has signed on to, in order to be competitive in the global market. 

Leveraging the country’s participation in World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) -administered international agreements - such as the Patent Cooperation Treaty and the Madrid Protocol- is key to MSME participation in international trade.

“We would like to see more of our local businesses go overseas, exploiting the mechanisms facilitated and made possible by these international agreements. We want to see you to become competitive in international trade with your own distinctive trademarks or service marks, as well as with your inventions,” said IPOPHL Director General Josephine R. Santiago, in a seminar organised by WIPO with the Philippines’ largest business group, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI).

The Madrid Protocol is one such international treaty.

The Treaty created the international filing system (Madrid System) that enables a trademark owner to protect a mark in multiple countries by filing one application in one office, in one language , with one set of fees, and in one currency.  

The business owner must apply first or must be registered in the national IP office in his country, afterwards he may file an international application through the same office which will certify and forwarded it to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). 

WIPO will undertake a formal examination, and once approved, the mark will be published in the WIPO Gazette and placed in the International Registry.  

The IP office of the target foreign country/countries will be notified of the trademark being sought protection for.  the IP office of that foreign jurisdiction will undertake a substantive examination 

“Your role as MSMEs is to make sure you have satisfied customers, and that satisfaction comes from the certain values attached to your brand.The way you protect your brand is through a trademark. You need to think globally. If you think your product has a market outside the Philippines then you need to think how best to protect it,” said Mr. Peter Willimott, Senior Program Officer, WIPO Regional Office for Asean in Singapore. 

A trademark is the intellectual property most relevant for for PCCI’s member businesses as the primary purpose of a trademark is to be a source-identifier. It is a marketing tool that makes the public identify goods and services to a particular source. 

When a business owner registers his trademark, he is given the exclusive right to use the mark and to prevent others from using the same or similar marks on identical or related goods and services.

In the Philippines, a trademark’s certificate of registration will remain in force for 10 years, given that the owner has proven he is using the mark, and is renewable for a period of 10 years perpetually.

In 2017,  Madrid Protocol trademark filings coming from foreign entities seeking protection here, comprised 21 percent of total filings in the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines.