IPOPHL wants designation of more courts for IPR cases

Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - August 7, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) is proposing the designation of more special commercial courts (SCCs) and regional trial courts (RTCs) focused on intellectual property rights (IPR) to facilitate faster resolution of cases involving IPR.

IPOPHL director general Josephine Santiago said she recently met with Supreme Court (SC) justices to discuss approaches which may be undertaken for quicker resolution of pending IPR cases.

She said among the proposals given by IPOPHL was for SC to designate more SCCs with the power to issue search warrants, in relation to IPR cases, nationwide.

At present, SCCs are spread only across Metro Manila, particularly in the cities of Pasig, Makati, Manila, and Quezon.

“We believe the designation of additional SCCs to be located in Metro Visayas, Metro Mindanao and Metro Northern Luzon will further bolster the Philippines’ standing in the areas of rule of law and administration of justice and will be beneficial, as this will serve a greater number of stakeholders,” Santiago said.

Also being pushed by the IPOPHL is for SC to consider designation of select RTCs to specialize and focus on IPR cases.

IPR cases are currently lodged with RTCs designated as SCCs which handle not just IPR cases, but all commerce-related cases.

SCCs also handle drug-related cases which, like IPR cases, have been on the rise in recent years.

To support the proposals, IPOPHL will submit a report on how other countries that established courts focusing on IPR cases have effectively disposed and declogged dockets.

In addition to the proposals, IPOPHL is likewise recommending the creation of a technical working group (TWG) or subcommittee composed of legal practitioners in the field of intellectual property, members of the IPOPHL, and SCC judges to make the currently implemented 2010 Special Rules on IPR congruent with all other rules and policies issued thereafter with the said guidelines, such as the Revised Guidelines for Continuous Trial of Criminal Cases and the Ease of Doing Business Act of 2018.

“The recommendation to revise the rules was based on several consultations with the SCC judges, intellectual property stakeholders, and organizations to address some gaps and to further streamline the procedure,” Santiago said.

She said Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin is amenable to the proposals.

Bersamin said the designation of additional SCCs or of special IPR courts is possible since Congress has increased the number of RTCs.

In terms of  amending the special rules on IPR, Justice Diosdado Peralta has been tasked to take the lead in revisiting the procedural guidelines.

“The Chief Justice himself proposed that IPOPHL sit in the TWG and/or subcommittee that will revise the rules. The IPOPHL would be pleased to actively participate in the move to amend the rules. In fact, we have prepared a comprehensive list of provisions we believe to be ripe for revision and we are ready to discuss this at the proper time and venue,” Santiago said.

While efforts are being undertaken to expedite the resolution of IPR cases at the courts, IPOPHL is encouraging the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services which include mediation for now.

Mediation allows parties to settle domestic or cross-border IPR disputes out of the courts, as well as to save on costs.

Given the average settlement rate of 45.4 percent through mediation in the five years through 2018, IPOPHL would want to see the use of arbitration, its other ADR service, to also increase.

“We continue to work toward strengthening arbitration as we hope to see it conducted not only at the administrative level, but also at the courts,” Santiago said.

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