MANILA, Philippines – A total of 63 million pesos worth of suspected counterfeit or counterfeit products were seized by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) during a one-day operation at Greenhills Mall in San Juan City, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines. (IPOPHL) said Wednesday.
IPOPHL reports indicate that the operation was initiated by the National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR), a 15-member agency committee headed by IPOPHL.
At least 755 pieces of allegedly counterfeit Louis Vuitton products have been seized from the Greenhills Mall, which IPOPHL says is currently on the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) list of notorious markets for counterfeiting and piracy .
IPOPHL Deputy General Manager Teodoro Pascua said the NCIPR is committed to changing the image of Greenhills Mall as a hotspot for counterfeit goods.
“Unless radically changed, Greenhill’s reputation as a benchmark for counterfeit products will damage our nation’s reputation, ultimately affecting our economic interests in the United States and other trading partners who value great importance to intellectual property (IP) protection,” Pascua said in a statement.
Following the operation, NCIPR met with management at Greenhills Shopping Center to discuss possible steps and measures to counter the sale of counterfeit items.
According to IPOPHL, Isagani Elacio, external affairs and legal officer of Greenhills, assured the committee that he would coordinate with the authorities any future action plan.
Elacio apparently offered to provide the NCIPR with an on-site office to help educate store owners about the dangers of selling counterfeit items and how to remove the Greenhills Mall from the USTR list.
A representative of the US Embassy was also present at the meeting, IPOPHL noted, to clarify the USTR report.
Greenhills Mall is on the USTR’s list for allegedly selling fake electronics, perfumes, watches, shoes, accessories and other luxury fashion items.
However, Pascua said they are not only focusing on the big markets as they choose to bring the fight against counterfeit items to the barangay level, in light of the memorandum issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Local governments regarding the protection of intellectual property.
Pascua was referring to Circular Memorandum No. 2020-124, which seeks to direct local governments to prohibit “the sale, transfer, manufacture and/or production of pirated, counterfeit and counterfeit products, as well as to observe the rules of the Optical Media Board”.
The IPOPHL official hopes that the DILG memorandum can “denormalize” the sale of counterfeit items like optical media and other counterfeit items in local stores.
“One thing we are looking forward to from this circular is to speed up the application process. The front line here is really in local government, down to the barangays,” Pascua said.
“We will take the next step not only in Greenhills, but in all the other shopping centers that we have already observed violating intellectual property rights. We will speak to their management. We will ask them to help us, not to threaten them but to help us buffer [counterfeiting and piracy] out,” he added.
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