Philippine Gov

The government is bringing in experts from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to train Filipino professionals on how to manage and protect intellectual property (IP).

The Philippine Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is establishing a formal training institution that will provide interested parties basic courses on IP, such as evaluating and managing a company’s assets categorized as IP. Certain courses will also be tailored to cater specifically to small- and medium-sized companies.

Despite acknowledging a “big gap” in local laws that protect IP, IPO director-general Attorney Adrian Cristobal is hoping enough awareness about IP will encourage more local companies to develop and harness “intangible” human capital.

“In the U.S., 65 per cent of corporate wealth is classified as intangible assets. We can no longer neglect this fact now that we’re positioning the Philippines as an ICT (Information and Communications Technology) hub,” said Cristobal in a media briefing during the recent IPO National Symposium on Education, Training, and Research.

By bringing in foreign expertise to conduct training, the IPO is looking to address a basic lack of awareness and knowledge locally. Although according to Cristobal, there are legal impediments to harnessing local IP that are in the form of government-funded research, including those from state universities like the University of the Philippines (UP) and others like the Philippine Rice Research Institute.

“For example, around 90–95 per cent of the research coming from the academe is generated by UP,” he pointed out. “But there are existing laws that prevent the commercialization of publicly funded research. Otherwise, this can generate wealth for the university or for the individuals involved.”

Cristobal added the IPO is pursuing a “legal agenda” to allow the commercialization of state-funded research. Meanwhile, the IPO plans to roll out its IP courses within the first quarter of the year.

The initial funding for this program will come from IPO’s own budget, said Cristobal. The IPO also plans to tap provincial offices of the Department of Trade and Industry to eventually roll out these courses in more cities like Cebu and Davao in the South.

The government is also looking at strengthening the local IP system to help counter a growing piracy problem. As of 2005, Cristobal reported around P1.04 billion (US$19,485,000) worth of counterfeit items seized by the government, although he said the figure can be “underreported” because of the lack of input from local police.

To foster IP creation, the IPO seeks to promote the inclusion of IP in basic and secondary education and build up policy research related to IP, among others. The Philippines can learn a lesson or two from more progressive countries, such as Singapore, to create a more effective strategy.

Rowena Paguio, who heads the WIPO office in Singapore, said the island-state has successfully integrated several components into its IP system, including policy-making, education, enforcement, and commercialization of IP.

“The Singapore government is successful at integrating different stakeholders into this whole cycle—from exploitation of IP to its commercialization,” said Paguio, a Filipino who was previously working for the WIPO’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland before being assigned to Singapore.