Online platforms urged to come up with single standard for complaints
Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - February 22, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A single standard to handle complaints and take down unscrupulous sellers is being pushed for e-commerce players to get rid of fake products, the sIntellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) said.

IPOPHL said the proposal was discussed by the United Kingdom Prosperity Fund during a recent workshop which aims to improve IP protection in e-commerce and to have online selling marketplaces free of counterfeiting and piracy. 

The proposal involves entering into a memorandum of agreement (MOU) to adopt a set of uniform guidelines on receiving and processing complaints from rights owners and on taking down unscrupulous accounts or notice and take-down (NTD).

This proposal is based on the 2016 Brussels “MOU on the sale of counterfeit goods via the internet” which has 26 global e-commerce platforms, associations, and brand owners whose IP rights are covered by European Union laws as signatories.

Through the MOU, the aim is to have a single NTD mechanism in order to simplify processes so brand owners would not have difficulty understanding different procedures. 

The proposal is expected to address the different kinds of counterfeiters online such as small-scale infringers or micro and small enterprises and non-entrepreneurs selling secondhand items; repeat small-scale infringers or those who create one or two different seller accounts to dodge any liability or penalty charged to its first selling account; and mass-level infringers whose activity mostly involve copyright infringement.

IPOPHL said major e-commerce players present at the workshop such as Zalora, Lazada, Shopee and Facebook all expressed commitment to review having a single and simpler standard on NTDs. 

While the e-commerce players are open to the possibility of having a single standard on NTDs, they said more time would be needed to discuss the guidelines with their respective mother companies abroad. 

IPOPHL deputy director general Teodoro Pascua said the agency welcomes the willingness of e-commerce platforms to strengthen their IP policies. 

“With their positive reception of the UK Prosperity Fund’s proposal for an industry-wide code of conduct on NTDs, we can expect more engagement with them in the coming months. IPOPHL is willing to hold more forums to bring together rights owners and online marketplaces to strengthen trust and cooperation. We hope these efforts will result in a safer online trading environment pending various legislative bills aimed at setting clear-cut guidelines on the protection of rights holders in the online space, as well as the extent of liability of online platforms,” Pascua said. 

Legislative measures being pushed in the Congress to address online piracy are House Bill 9148 or the New IP Act and Senate Bill 497 or the Philippine Online Infringing Act.

Under HB 9148, the IPOPHL would be allowed to issue notice-and-takedown orders to combat online piracy and counterfeiting, as well as enable copyright owners to claim damages from infringing sites and grant them ownership of the domain name of the infringing site. 

As for SB 497, it would allow the IPOPHL to order cancellation of an internet service provider’s operating license when it fails to remove infringing content within 10 days from receipt of notice from the agency.

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