What’s in the name?

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    Every man is unique. Not even twins are exactly similar. And for almost all men, identity is everything. It is a basic instinct for everyone to find their real identity as a person or as a nation. Our identity gives as a distinction against others.

    And so are our creations. That is why we put a name to everything to distinguish it from others – it could be an invention, expression, artistic work, writing, product, and all other creations of men.    

    But in a highly competitive and commercialized world, somebody found it imperative to claim ownership of a particular creation, especially if it has potentials for profit or income generation. In other cases, ownership of an expression is simply an assertion of one’s right to intellectual property.

    And so today we have issues on intellectual property rights (IPRs). Information technology giants like Microsoft, Macintosh, Hewett-Packard, Compaq, Toshiba, Dell, Acer and all other software and hardware providers and manufacturers protect their products by patenting. By securing patents for their products, they get protection for exclusive manufacturing and distribution in a given period that usually lasts 20 years.

    But what about songs, poems, writings, literary pieces, books, paintings, photos, films, and other expressions of specific authors? And how about logos or marks of products or services of certain companies? Remember McDonalds, Jollibee, KFC, Max’s? How do we protect such names or works?

    Various governments around the globe have come up with their own policies on the protection of intellectual property rights. In the Philippines, we have the Intellectual Property Office (IP Philippines), the lead agency mandated to implement state policies on intellectual property. Headed by Director General Atty. Adrian S. Cristobal Jr., it has a national office in Makati.

    But good enough for the people of Central Luzon, the IP Philippines has established a new satellite office at the DTI Region 3 office in Nepo Quadrangle, Angeles City. The office was launched last March 25, 2009. This is the third satellite office of IP Philippines. In 2008, the satellite offices of Cebu and Davao were put up.

    Although IP Philippines cannot fully protect IPRs especially those posted or published in the internet, at least product owners can now avail of its available service in the region. All you have to do is to visit their office and apply for IP certification.

    Cristobal said there is growing demand for IPR protection and this is an indication of a fast developing economy. Many are becoming aware of the importance to protect their creations against piracy.

    According to Cristobal, there is a common notion that a “patent” is applicable to all kinds of creations. Actually a patent is different from a copyright or a trade mark.

    A patent is an exclusive right granted by the State through the IPSO to a patent owner for a product, process or an improvement of a product or process for a specified period. Patentable inventions offer a technical solution to a problem in any field of human activity. The technical solution must fulfill three basic requirements: (1) it must be new, (2) it must involve an inventive step, and (3) it must be industrially applicable.

    Copyright, on the other hand, is a branch of Intellectual Property which pertains to the rights given to creators or authors for their literary and artistic works. The domain of works includes writings, music, fine art (photography, paintings or sculpture) and technology-based works (computer software programs, websites and electronic databases). Copyright protects the expression of thoughts or ideas, not the thoughts or ideas themselves.

    Meanwhile, a mark is any visible sign that distinguishes the products (trademark) or services (service mark) of an enterprise, which includes the container of the products or the packaging. If it is only a name or designation of an enterprise, it is termed trade name.
    Cristobal added that the intention for the opening the satellite offices is to “encourage investors, and entrepreneurs in the countryside to protect the intellectual property (IP) creations by having them registered with IP Philippines.”

    He adds that by engaging in a proactive promotion and bringing its services to the provinces, IP Philippines will achieve its goal of fostering a vibrant culture that uses IP as a strategic tool for national development. IP Philippines targets to increase local non-NCR filing for trademark and patents by at least 15 percent to 60 percent annually for the period of 2008 to 2010.

    With the IPSO’s range of services and operations including receiving, search, examination and registration applications, provincial-based business and other sources of IP will have easier access to IP Philippines.

    These businesses, which remain untapped, have the capacity to become commercial successes and bring financial benefits to the country.

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