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Intellectual property filings in the Philippines have been soaring in recent years.
Although Covid-19 put a damper on the party in 2020 – the year was the first time since the establishment of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) in 1998 that the country had seen a decrease in filings across all types of IP – experts are expecting filings to rebound as the country, and the region, begin to develop immunity to the coronavirus and become accustomed to the “new normal.”
From January to December 2020, applications for trademarks contracted by 10 percent year-on-year to a total of 35,274, and patents declined by 9 percent to 3,648.
“The sluggish flow of IP applications last year, which signify lower commitments to new intangible assets, was expected given the economic uncertainties subduing investment appetite,” IPOPHL Director General Rowel Barba said in a statement early this year. “But with the gradual opening up of the economy and the anticipated vaccine rollout, we hope to see more fresh investments in IP assets this year.”
Officials in the Philippines are pointing towards the post-financial crisis of 2008 as a potential model for a rebound of filings in the country. At that time, patenting applications dropped immediately following the recession, but experienced sharp growth that surpassed pre-global economic crisis rates.
“Past global crises have reconstructed industries, eliminating the less efficient firms or compelling a repurposing amongst them while accentuating the competitiveness of the more dynamic and the more agile who recover. And historically, those who put research and innovation at the center of their strategies are those who stand and thrive in the face of disruptions,” Barba said in January. “Thus, lower filings may signal a redirection of growth paths, favoring the highly competitive and innovative, rather than stymied innovation,” he said.
Lawyers in Manila note that the Philippine Congress has taken steps recently to amend the country’s IP Code through three different bills, House Bills (HB) No. 1597, 8062 and 8620. A working group is expected to receive comments from the public and consolidate the three bills. Changes under discussion include including extending the period of protection from 10 years to 15 years, increasing criminal penalties and imprisonment for IP violations, expanding the organizational structure of the IPOPHL from four bureaus to seven bureaus, and granting police powers to the IPOPHL covering pirated and counterfeit products.
With this growing interest in intellectual property protection in the Philippines, we turned to IP professionals in the region in order to understand better what clients need today. Asia IP asked a large number of professionals – mostly in-house counsel and corporate legal managers – what they were looking for from their legal service providers. From their answers, we have compiled our list of 50 Philippines IP Experts, those lawyers who understand just what their clients need and are able to provide them with the best practical advice.
Today’s clients are looking for more than just a degree from a top-notch university and a couple of decades of practice. In order to be an outstanding provider of intellectual property advice, a lawyer must also be capable of understanding how intellectual property impacts the rest of his client’s business, and be able to provide practical, real-world, business-savvy advice. She must be able to provide sound advice on the current law, but also needs to be able to understand coming trends which are likely to impact her client’s business.
Unlike days past when she might have played just a bit role, today’s IP Expert is every bit a full-fledged team member.
As our list of the Philippines’ IP Experts began to emerge, we were reminded of the importance of home-grown law firms; in the Philippines, the practice of law is limited to those with Filipino citizenship.
It’s no big surprise, of course, that some of the country’s largest firms employ some of its best lawyers: Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz, also known as ACCRALaw, is home to six different lawyers on our list, each of whom is a well-known name across IP law in the Philippines: Lila Quirino, Alex “Ferdi” Fider, John Paul Gaba, Jose Eduardo T. Genilo, Richmond Lee and Victor De Leon.
Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia placed four lawyers on the list, while six firms each placed three lawyers on the list: Bengzon Negre Untalen, Betita Cabilao Casuela Sarmiento, Castillo Laman Tan Pantaleon & San Jose, Quisumbing Torres, SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan and Villaraza & Angangco.
Most of the lawyers named to our list have multiple practice specialties. Many of them are litigators, while others concentrate on prosecution work or provide strategic advice.
All of them have something in common: they are experts in their fields and, in one way or another, they provide extra value for their clients. They are Asia IP’s Philippines IP Experts.
The Philippines’ IP Experts is based solely on independent editorial research conducted by Asia IP. As part of this project, we turned to thousands of in-house counsel in the Philippines, Asia and elsewhere and around the world, as well as Philippines-focused partners at international law firms, and asked them to nominate private-practice lawyers including foreign legal consultants, advisers and counsel.
The final list reflects the nominations received combined with the input of editorial team at Asia IP, which has more than 40 years of collective experience in researching and understanding the Philippines’ legal market.
All private practice intellectual property lawyers in the Philippines were eligible for inclusion in the nominations process; there were no fees or any other requirements for inclusion in the process.
The names of our 50 IP Experts are published here. Each IP Expert was given the opportunity to include their biography and contact details in print and on our website, for which a fee was charged.
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