PAPT Seizes PHP 70M Worth of Counterfeit Products as Anti-Piracy Drive Continues
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
IPR Campaign gets boost as US Government takes measures against infringers in the Philippines
19 December 2012, Manila, Philippines—As part of its continuous effort to combat counterfeiting in the country, the Pilipinas Anti-Piracy Team (PAPT) recently cracked down on various retail shops in Metro Manila allegedly engaged in piracy. More than 70 million pesos worth of pirated discs were seized and alleged infringers were subjected to criminal prosecution.
As a member of the PAPT, the Optical Media Board (OMB) conducted a sweep on pirated disc retailers in Taft Avenue and Recto in Manila, Taguig City, and Marikina City in November. Included in the malls raided were Tutuban Center Mall, University Mall, Isetann, Metro Market! Market! and Marikina Riverbanks.
A total of 70 sacks or roughly 28,000 pieces of counterfeit discs were seized, with an estimated retail value of 70 million pesos ($ 1.7 million). The pirated discs contained movies, games, music and computer programs, many of which were Microsoft products including various versions of Windows, Microsoft Office, Visual Studio, Microsoft Office Project, SQL server and Xbox games.
“We are aware that many consumers are attracted to low-priced merchandise such as optical media especially during this period that they tend to overlook the fact that these items are counterfeit products. People neglect the consequences of utilizing pirated goods such as software, which only cause more harm than good,” stated Atty. Cyrus Valenzuela, the OMB Executive Director who spearheaded the operations. They were also joined by U.S. law enforcement officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to observe the clamping down on software pirates.
“Software Piracy is a violation of the Copyright Provisions of the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines (RA 8293) and the Optical Media Act (RA 9239). This subjects violators to criminal sanctions of up to nine years of imprisonment and a fine of up to 1.5 million,” reiterated the OMB Executive.
In separate operation conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) also in November, four computer dealers in Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan City were also found accountable for software infringement. A total of eight laptops carrying the brands Samsung, Lenovo, Acer and HP, three pirated installers, one desktop and four flash drives—all of which contained infringing Microsoft programs—were seized.
“There are no benefits in pirated software. It is unreliable as it contains malware, which exposes users to identity and information theft and loss of data. In an even more serious note, it harms the Philippine economy in revenue losses, lower tax collections for the government and diminished job opportunities for Filipinos. Our efforts here are geared towards endorsing the use of only genuine software,” said NBI Intellectual Property Rights Division Chief, Rommel Vallejo. “We urge Filipinos to make use of licensed software only, as doing otherwise deprives the economy of hundreds of millions of pesos in tax revenue, while jobs are lost in the country’s IT ecosystem.”
U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) has partnered with the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) on recent cases here in the Philippines to help identify potential violators of intellectual property laws and ensure that appropriate action is taken. Punitive actions could be taken that may include criminal prosecution and/or administrative sanctions that could impact eligibility for a U.S. visa or even the revocation of an existing U.S. visa should an individual be found guilty of violating intellectual property law.
“In his State of the Union Address earlier this year, President Barack Obama emphasized our government’s commitment to ensure a level playing field by not tolerating unfair business practices such as piracy and counterfeiting,” said HSI Assistant Attaché Mitchell Worley during a speech at the 2nd Philippine Anti-Piracy and Counterfeiting Summit on October 22 at the Edsa Shangri-La Hotel in Mandaluyong City. “This is why we have taken this step to deter piracy and counterfeiting, and emphasize the importance of IP across all industries. After all, software piracy is a crime and we aim to keep software criminals out of the United States.”
Director General Ricardo Blancaflor of the IPOPHL, the agency mandated to reinforce IPR protection in the country, shared, “these kinds of sanctions by the U.S. Government can help protect IPR in the Philippines. We at IPOPHL have continuously implemented various education and enforcement initiatives to highlight the importance of IPR in the country.“
Different countries around the globe are strengthening their initiatives to reinforce IPR protection. In the Philippines, the National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR), led by the IPOPHL, has reported that through the various efforts of enforcement agencies such as the Bureau of Customs (BOC), NBI and the Philippine National Police (PNP), the seizure of counterfeit products in the first three quarters of 2012 has decreased by 20% from the same period in 2011. This amounts to a combined PHP 4.126 billion worth of fake products confiscated from January to September this year.
The PAPT, formed in 2005, is comprised of the NBI, OMB, PNP and the IPOPHL to establish an integrated and coordinated effort by the government to counteract the negative effects of software piracy on the local IT industry and the economy.
# # #
For more information on PAPT campaigns and details on the PAPT countdown, call the PAPT Secretariat at (02) 692-9516 or visit www.papt.org.ph.