After receiving the endorsement of the international community, the Philippines is now one step closer to realising its goal of becoming an international authority on patents.

The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) is seeking designation as an international searching authority and international preliminary examining authority under the Patent Cooperation Treaty. The treaty allows patent applicants and inventors to file a single patent application in one IP office, resulting in protection in multiple countries. In effect, applicants and inventors need only file a single patent application, creating the legal effect of filing in different countries bound by the treaty.

The treaty's working group – the Committee on Technical Cooperation – unanimously approved IPOPHL's application in May 2017. After this endorsement, IPOPHL's application will be up for approval at the General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in October 2017.

IPOPHL has met the minimum requirements to be an international authority:

  • extensive search and examination experience;
  • language proficiency;
  • comprehensive quality management system; and
  • access to reputable databases.

WIPO identified the Philippines as a "hub for intellectual property creation and commercialization". There are approximately 2,180 colleges and universities and many multinational entities doing business in the country. IPOPHL's designation as an international authority will facilitate increased usage of the patent system given the expanding academic, commercial, industrial and trade activities locally.

The wide use of English in the Philippines gives the country a distinct advantage. In 2015 95% of treaty applications from the Southeast Asian region were filed in English.

The country's efforts in IP creation have not gone unnoticed. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development recently ranked the Philippines among the top 15 preferred investment destinations of multinational enterprises. The country has also managed to stay off the US Trade Representative's watch list for four years, after being on the list for almost 20 years.

If approved, the IPOPHL will become the second international searching authority and international preliminary examining authority in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region (next to Singapore) and the 23rd designated country in the world. This will make the Philippines a more attractive business destination and an even more reliable partner in patent protection in the years to come.

This article was first published by the International Law Office, a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. Register for a free subscription.

For further information on this topic please contact Lee Benjamin Z Lerma at Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles by telephone (+63 2 848 0114) or email (benjamin.lerma@romulo.com). The Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles website can be accessed at www.romulo.com.