Aquino’s search for good news may lead to DTI
MANILA, Philippines—Saying his 13-point drop in net satisfaction rating was caused by media’s bias for bad news, President Benigno Aquino III challenged his propaganda staff to be more “thick-skinned” and “aggressive” in purveying the good news.
There would be no need for breast thumping if they just spent less time dueling daily with Malacañang reporters like a “Dead Poets’ Society” debating club and more time looking for good news.
Here’s one right under their noses, at the Department of Trade and Industry, to be precise.
With just a single application, local entrepreneurs can have their trademarks protected in 85 countries—including the United States, Japan, China, and members of the European Union—if we join the Madrid Protocol, a 1995 international agreement on intellectual property.
If we sign in, it will facilitate the registration of trademarks and patents in all signatory countries.
The initiative to have the Philippines sign the agreement was re-launched last month. It was originally launched in 2009 by the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines, headed by Director General Adrian Cristobal Jr. The new IPOPHL Director General is Ricardo Blancaflor.
He says: “Through the Madrid system, Filipino individuals and corporations will have a golden opportunity to expand outside the Philippines in a new, simple, cheap, and effective way.”
Because “trademark protection is territorial,” businesses must file applications—and periodically renew them—in every country where they seek protection for their intellectual property.
The Madrid system “will make life easier for business owners who will now have to file only one application with IPOPHL.”
When the typical entrepreneur starts a business, he rarely thinks of legally protecting his trade and service marks in overseas markets. It is expensive. But, without legal protection for his trademarks, brand names, logos, and other service marks, the business owner can be prey to third-party opportunists.
When the business succeeds and expands abroad, these parties can prevent the owner from using his own marks. He will then be forced to compensate those opportunists for the right to use his own trademarks, brand names, and logos in those markets.
The Madrid Protocol, of course, is reciprocal. Multinationals of countries belonging to the agreement will also enjoy legal protection in this country.
World Intellectual Property Organization (Wipo) Deputy Director General Wang Binying is providing technical assistance to IPOPHL in the implementation of the Madrid system of trademark registration.
Wipo is the agency of the United Nations that administers the international registrations under the Madrid Protocol.
No lawyers, lower cost
Through the protocol’s central intellectual property registration system, IP owners can file a single international application for each trademark or patent owned.
It removes the need to hire foreign lawyers and produce additional documents in different languages.
The international application requires that the applicant has registered the subject trademark or brand in the “country of origin.”
The registered brands will be protected for 10 years in as many member countries as the applicant wishes.
International protection under the Madrid Protocol is available only to individuals or legal entities that are nationals of a country that is a signatory to the protocol. The international application is filed with the trademark office in the country of origin. That office is responsible for determining whether all the requirements for international registration are met. It then transmits the completed application to the Wipo.
The Wipo examines the application and, if everything is in order, will inform the trademark offices in the member countries where the applicant has applied for protection. Those trademark offices are required to scrutinize the Wipo-referred applications according to the same standards and procedures as individually filed applications.
Speak now or keep quiet
Under the protocol, if those trademark offices do not issue an objection to the application within 12 months—18 months in some countries—the application is considered granted.
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says IP committee chair Jesus Varela, passed a resolution in the 36th Philippine Business Conference in October 2010 that urges “the Senate to ratify the Philippines’ membership in the Madrid Protocol.”
Philippine Retailers Association president Bernard Liu agrees.
The next move is the Senate’s—or the President’s, through an executive agreement. But maybe we should request Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa to touch base first with the Senate, so we don’t ruffle sensitive feathers and get into more trouble with executive orders.
(The author is chief executive of a think tank specializing in transforming social and political trends into public policy and business strategy. For comments, email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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