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Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

May 5, 2023

Protecting the creative mind

Intellectual property — a product of the human intellect that can be used for commerce — is protected by law through trademarks, patents and copyrights, among others, to enable people to earn from what they invent or create.

Taylor Swift’s legal battle over her songs and Ed Sheeran’s trial to prove his works are original are just some of the recent famous cases on intellectual property rights.

The need to protect IP is crucial in economic and socio-cultural development. The World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) emphasizes that our ability to create and invent new works, especially in the areas of technology and culture, results in the progress and well-being of humanity. Moreover, the promotion and protection of IP help spur economic growth, create new jobs and industries, and enhance the quality and enjoyment of life.

Here in the Philippines, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) is the government agency tasked to administer and implement state policies to protect and secure the exclusive rights of scientists, inventors, artists and other gifted citizens to their intellectual property and creations.

Amid the pandemic, the IPOPHL was able to carry on with its task with minimal disruption, thanks to its ongoing digitalization that had been laid out since a decade ago.

This allowed IPOPHL to swiftly adopt technologies that streamline client transactions in the new normal, such as the fully online payment system — from generation of an electronic statement of account (eSOA) to the issuance of electronic official receipts. To complement the online filing system for trademark, industrial design, patent and utility model applications, the client correspondence system (called eCorr) was updated so as to send notifications to applicants who send accurate email addresses.

The agency’s digitalization efforts include making the IP Administration System (IPAS) of the WIPO intrinsic to IPOPHL’s services. The IPAS is a flexible, modular system that automates IP services and administrative processes from receiving an application to registration and post-registration procedures.

Other ongoing projects include the enhancement of the copyright registration system as well as the digitalization of administrative systems for the agency’s financial, procurement and human resource management.

Behind these digitalization efforts is IPOPHL’s Director Vina Liza Ruth C. Cabrera, who is spearheading the agency’s IT management and operations.

Cabrera is happy to share that their clients can now avail of digitally-signed certificate of registrations.

“This largely enabled ease of transactions and we’re sure to upgrade more services according to the needs of stakeholders,” she said.

But according to Cabrera, these efforts are not of the IT team alone as the entire agency was involved in the success of its business continuity. Executive committee members quickly reviewed the policies and issued appropriate guidelines to ensure that clients can continue to transact with the IPOPHL for them to comply with due dates and other rules and regulations.

What’s more important, she emphasized, is that “we realized that client queries and concerns needed to be addressed immediately, whether received through email, online, or through telephone calls. Active collaboration was established to log all client concerns to ensure that these were replied to and resolved the soonest possible time.”

Due in part to improved processes and systems, IPOPHL ranked 9th in the 2021 IP Office Innovation Ranking of the World Trademark Review, an index that reviews the trademark processes of IP offices, focusing on its online capabilities, value-added propositions, and public outreach efforts. This is a big leap from being 24th in 2020.

Cabrera said that the IPOPHL still needs to work on the full online deployment of frontline services through the development of applicant dashboards. This will give near real-time status of their applications, as well as notifications and other announcements. It is  also improving on its Business Intelligence system and ensures the constant training of staff.

IPOPHL’s commitment is to continuously enhance its capacity for the growing digital landscape to allow stakeholders to better access intellectual property services.

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