WIPR Influential Women in IP 2019
billion worth of goods, with the bulk of the items
being consumer electronics.
Santiago points to this record seizure and the
overall efforts of the office as some of the reasons
that the Philippines’ has maintained a good global
standing in curbing piracy and counterfeiting
As of 2018, the country has successfully remained
outside of the US Trade Representative’s Special 301
list, which annually identifies countries that need to
improve IP rights protection and enforcement, for
five years running.
Into the 21st century
IPOPHL must keep pace with a growing demand for
IP—in 2018, IP filings increased by 15%, on the back
of at least five years of continuous growth.
Applicants submitted 2,946 patent filings, an
increase of 28% from 3,085 filings in 2017. Broken
down, national filings soared 128% year on year,
from 242 filings in 2017 to 551 filings in 2018.
Resident applications jumped (63%) to 464
filings, from 284 in 2017, while Patent Cooperation
Treaty filings increased by 15%, from 2,559 to 2,931.
The increase in trademarks was smaller, but
2018 still saw an 11% increase in applications from
31,960 the prior year to 35,602. This was driven by
a 16% increase in resident applications, 21,567 in
2018, compared with 18,567 in 2017.
“The office is confronting a challenge in
ensuring the workforce is augmented and the
existing complement is consistently upskilled, so
we can keep pace and respond to evolving needs,”
In terms of legislative reform, IPOPHL has
submitted an amendatory bill (HB 9148) to the
Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines to the
Philippine Congress, aimed at bringing the code
into the 21st century.
The bill includes a provision institutionalising
the NCIPR as a permanent body and grants
the IPOPHL authority to issue notice and
takedown procedures to address online piracy and
Under the bill, there’s also a substantial increase
of criminal penalties for infringing products that
endanger the public’s health and safety, with a
proposed imprisonment period of seven years, a fine
of P4 million, or both.
The proliferation of new technology has opened
up global markets, giving consumers and sellers new
ways to interact and transact. But this also presents
a challenge to IP systems and IP offices across the
world as they seek to address creators’ evolving
needs and secure IP rights in a digital environment.
“In the same way that Filipino IP creators
continue to exhibit creativity in IP creation, so do
the community of infringers and counterfeiters,”
IP office interview: Philippines
“Reports from our enforcement arm indicate
that even as storage devices and optical media
devices with infringing content are still observed
in the physical markets, the challenge of enforcing
IP rights has long embedded itself in the online
space and there, a sustained dialogue with online
intermediaries is essential,” she adds.
Yet another challenge facing Santiago is ensuring
that stakeholders adapt to the digital environment
in the IP process.
While IPOPHL has deployed a full suite of
online filing systems in 2018, and launched online
communication routes, users of the IP system and
the IP creators themselves have yet to fully imbibe
In 2018, a total of 43,193 patent, utility models,
industrial design, and trademark applications were
filed at the office. Only 24% (10,346) of these were
Because of this, the Bureau of Trademarks is
planning to implement mandatory online filing
for trademark applications as soon as the IT
infrastructure is sufficiently upgraded for the
The office’s Management Information Systems
Bureau is also preparing to launch a mobile platform
for all public-facing transactions, although it’s not
yet planning to digitise IP data.
All of these updates are part of Santiago’s
‘cleaning house’ initiative in which, during her
time as chief of the office, she is sharpening and
streamlining the office’s functions.
“As the head of the agency, the challenge
confronting me in a fast-paced and knowledgeintensive
industry has to do with expecting the same
level of excellence and proficiency in execution,
dedication and passion in the job, as others,” she
Further updates include two internal policy
improvements. The first empowers adjudication
officers to sign decisions, which expedites
adjudication and improves the overall efficiency of
The second improvement, which came into effect
in August 2017, limits the litigation period for
infringement cases to two years, in what Santiago
says is a plan to address the “growing needs of IP
“Layered bureaucracy in any organisation is
nothing new of course, but instilling efficiency in
backlog reduction and reviewing internal policies
in a targeted way is a clear objective of mine,” she
“It’s my duty to instil that guidance and
direction throughout the organisation, from
top-level decisions to the core technical work, to
ensure this level of commitment and quality to
IP administration and regulation are consistently
in a more
through the IP
worth of pirated and
seized last year by the
National Committee on
Rights task force.