Lobby group International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) has recommended to the US Trade Representative (USTR) to elevate the Philippines to the Priority Watch List of intellectual property violators and may also recommend for the removal of the country’s duty-free benefits on at least $ 913 million worth of exports under the US Generalized System of Preferences because of the country’s worsening piracy cases and corrupt practices that further infringe IP protection efforts.
This was contained in the recommendation submitted by IIPA to the USTR, which is reviewing the list of violators of the Special 301, a US trade law that metes out retaliatory measures to partner countries that violate IPR. The USTR is expected to release the 2009 list in March or April.
The Philippines was removed from the Priority Watch List two years ago and placed under the Regular Watch List after the USTR found some improvements in the country’s IPR regime and in the enforcement of laws.
“The Philippines should be elevated to the Priority Watch List. IIPA also may recommend a review to determine whether the Philippines qualifies for benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences trade program, under which more than $ 913 million of Philippine goods, or more than 10.5% of the Philippines total imports to the U.S. in 2008, enjoyed duty-free access to the U.S. market. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) should also continue to look into corruption in the Philippines a problem in the copyright area as well,” the IIPA said.
In general, IIPA said that the piracy situation in the Philippines worsened in 2008. In addition to physical piracy (CDs, DVDs, CD-ROMs, photocopies and book reprints), the legitimate market for foreign and local Philippine copyright material was decimated by Internet piracy (mainly peer-to-peer), mobile device piracy, camcording piracy, retail piracy, optical disc production, and pay TV theft.
By BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT