Philippines - Commercial Guide
Protecting Intellectual Property

Provides advice on IPR protection, including information on the registration of patents and trademarks.

Last published date: 2020-02-07

Several general principles are important for effective management of intellectual property (IP) rights in the Philippines.  First, it is important to have an overall strategy to protect IP.  Second, IP may be protected differently in the Philippines than in the United States.  Third, rights must be registered and enforced in the Philippines under local laws.  For example, U.S. trademark and patent registrations will not protect rights holders’ IP in the Philippines.  There is no such thing as an “international copyright” that will automatically protect an author’s writings throughout the world.  Protection against unauthorized use in a particular country depends on the national laws of that country.  The Philippines is a member of several international copyright treaties and conventions and offers copyright protection to foreign works in accordance with these treaties.  For information on Philippine IP laws, visit the Philippine Intellectual Property Office website at https://www.ipophil.gov.ph/.

Granting patents registrations is generally based on a first-to-file (or first-to-invent, depending on the country) basis.  Similarly, registering trademarks is based on a first-to-file (or first-to-use, depending on the country), so rights holders should consider how to obtain patent and trademark protection before introducing their products or services to the Philippine market.  It is vital that companies understand that intellectual property is primarily a private right and that the U.S. government cannot enforce rights for private individuals in the Philippines.  It is the responsibility of the rights holders to register, protect, and enforce their rights where relevant, retaining their own counsel and advisors.  Companies may wish to seek advice from a local attorney or IP consultant who specialize in Philippine law. The U.S. Commercial Service can provide a list of local lawyers upon request at http://export.gov/philippines/businessserviceproviders/index.asp?bsp_cat=80120000.

While the U.S. Government stands ready to assist, there is little it can do if the rights holders have not taken these fundamental steps necessary to securing and enforcing their IP in a timely fashion.  In no instance should U.S. Government advice be seen as a substitute for the responsibility of a rights holder to promptly pursue its case.

It is always advisable to conduct due diligence on potential partners.  A good partner is an important ally in protecting IP rights.  Consider carefully, however, whether to permit a partner to register IP rights on one’s behalf.  Doing so may create a risk that the partner will list itself as the IP owner and fail to transfer the rights should the partnership end.  Projects and sales in the Philippines require constant attention.  It is also recommended that small- and medium-size companies understand the importance of working together with trade associations and organizations to support efforts to protect IP and stop counterfeiting.  There are a number of these organizations, both Philippine and U.S.-based.  These include: 

•    The U.S. Chamber and local American Chamber of Commerce
•    National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) 
•    International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) 
•    International Trademark Association (INTA)
•    The Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy
•    International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC)
•    Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
•    Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) 

IP Resources
IP protection resources  are available to U.S. rights holders.  Resources for U.S. companies on intellectual property include: 

For information about patent, trademark, or copyright issues -- including enforcement issues in the U.S. and other countries -- call the STOP! Hotline: 1-866-999-HALT or visit www.STOPfakes.gov.

For more information about registering trademarks and patents (both in the U.S. as well as in foreign countries), contact the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) at: 1-800-786-9199, or visit http://www.uspto.gov/.

For more information about registering for copyright protection in the United States, contact the U.S. Copyright Office at: 1-202-707-3000, or visit http://www.copyright.gov/ 
In any foreign market companies should consider several general principles for effective protection of their intellectual property. For background, please link to our article on Protecting Intellectual Property and Stopfakes.gov for more resources. 

IP Attaché Contact for the Philippines:
Kitisri Sukhapinda, Ph.D., J.D., IP Attaché
U.S. Embassy Bangkok, c/o Foreign Commercial Service,
Room 302, GPF Witthayu Tower A, 93/1 Wireless Road
Bangkok, 10330 Thailand
Telephone:  + 662-205-5913
E-mail: kitisri.sukhapinda@trade.gov