UP College of Law Takes Part in First Intellectual Property Homecoming
On 30 April 2021, the UP College of Law (UP Law) served as the venue for “Intellectual Property (IP) Homecoming,” a new program launched by the Intellectual Property Academy of the Intellectual Property Office. The virtual event was part of the (IPOPHL) National IP Month Celebration. Considering the increase in IP rights holders in the Philippines, the new program of the IPOPHL aims to address the need for more IP Professionals responsible for protecting and enforcing the IP rights of creators.
The virtual event featured a series of talks about the benefits, market, and opportunities offered by pursuing a career in the field of Intellectual Property rights protection. UP Law faculty, students, and alumni, actively participated with various inquiries and comments regarding IP practice as a growing segment in the legal profession and as an increasingly relevant consideration for other career paths. Various resource persons presented brief overviews of the IP profession in government, the private sector, law firms, and the academe.
UP Law Dean Edgardo Carlo L. Vistan II gave the opening remarks acknowledging the attendance of UP Law participants. IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba and IPOPHL Deputy Director General Teodoro C. Pascua delivered the welcoming address and closing remarks, respectively.
Dr. Frederick P. Romero, Director-in-Charge of the IP Academy, gave a general briefer on intellectual property and the IP profession and presented various data showing an increase in patent applications through the years. He noted that although the current COVID-19 pandemic has affected the number of patent applications, the overall forecast is that the direction is inevitably pointing upward due to increasing awareness about protecting IP rights.
Atty. Divina Ilas-Panganiban, a Partner in Quisimbing Torres Law firm, talked about IP practice in the legal profession. She noted that while IP registration of famous creations is still rare in the Philippines, the number of clients soliciting legal services for IP registration is relatively high all year round. She emphasized that legal services for IP registration and protection in the Philippines is still an emerging industry, with increasing opportunities for future lawyers.
Atty. Mark Thursday P. Alciso, General Manager of the Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Inc. (FILSCAP ), discussed his association with FILSCAP and how he came to appreciate the importance of protecting the rights of composers, authors, and publishers considering how the internet has become a medium for piracy and unauthorized publications. He explained that even simple activities such as playing certain songs in an establishment are inextricably linked to IP rights.
Atty. Ann N. Edillon, of the IP Rights Enforcement Office, talked about her experience in government service and the relevance of IP protection as an area of public interest. She explained that unlike litigation work in full-time law firms, with its corresponding difficulties and pressures, working in government might be more fulfilling for an IP practitioner who wants to help protect people’s IP rights as a form of public service.
Atty. Emma C. Francisco, a professorial lecturer in the UP College of Law and first IPOPHL Director General, provided a brief overview of the history of IP practice in the Philippines before the establishment of the IPOPHL with her at its helm. She recalled that previously, IP Law was a small part of a commercial law subject at UP Law but now it is a two-unit elective. Atty. Francisco advocated that IP Law be made a required subject instead of just being an elective in the UP Law curriculum.
After the various talks, a short panel discussion delved primarily into how IP registration and protection are still growing. As long as people have innovative ideas and creative output, along with an increasingly digitalized world, IP rights and, correspondingly their protection, will become even more critical. It was also mentioned in the panel discussion that there is a current push to standardize an IP course to be offered in every law school in the Philippines, similar to that of the UP College of Law, in preparing future lawyers for IP practice in any career path.
Atty. Alex Ferdinand S. Fider, a Senior Partner and Head of the IP Department of the Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRA Law) and a member of the UP Law faculty, briefly joined in the panel discussion. He stressed that one importance of IP protection is not for the inventor or creator to rake in a profit, but rather to prevent one’s idea or technology from falling into the hands of unscrupulous individuals or organizations that may use the idea or technology in ways that would unjustly enrich them at the expense of the ordinary consumer.
The majority of speakers, in the two-hour virtual event as well as the IPOPHL officers who spoke, were UP Law alumni. It bears noting that their common ground served as a testament of how the UP College of Law develops distinguished lawyers and leaders for nation-building.