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Government not ready to go after Internet pirates

MANILA, Philippines - The government is still not ready to go after Internet pirates, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHIL) said yesterday.

In a press conference, IPOPHL director general Ricardo R. Blancaflor said that even if selling counterfeit luxury goods are rampant in social networking sites like Facebook and Multiply, they still have no plans of going after these merchants.

“At the moment we haven’t started,” he said.

At the same time, Blancaflor reported a decline in seizure of counterfeit products. Last year, seizures were at P5.7 billion. For this year, he said they expect only P4.5 billion. Blancaflor blamed the two elections because he said they did not have enough time to conduct operations.

Despite of the decline, Blancaflor said that they are looking at removing the Philippines from the regular watch list of the US Trade Representative.

Blancaflor said that they are coordinating with malls selling counterfeit products. He said that the Greenhills Shopping Center (GSC) agreed to help them catch pirates.

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According to Blancaflor, in two meetings held between IPOPHL and the GSC management, it was agreed that IPOPHL will submit the list of counterfeit goods duly documented by product specialists. GSC management will then prevent the stalls from selling counterfeit goods.

Yesterday, IPOPHL submitted a list to GSC management, which includes Breitling, Fitflop, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Nike and Sanouk.

IPOPHL will submit a new list next week.

“We also plan to rent a stall in Greenhills to help the management ensure compliance,” said Blancaflor. “We are willing to provide free warehouse services to house evidence or confiscated materials.”

IPOPHL is pushing for a more holistic approach in the country’s battle against piracy, including the cancellation of US visa of mall owners.

Dubbed “Oplan Holistic”, the new strategy “seeks the grant of visitorial rights to IPOPHL to check on mall owners’ compliance and border control,” he said.

“We want to go beyond search and seizure. We want accountability,” he added.

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