Philippines Still In US Piracy Watch List
According to the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL), our country remains included in the US government’s piracy watch list even after an out-of-cycle review (OCR) conducted last year. IPOPHL said the result of the 2010 Special 301 OCR for the Philippines was announced by the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) during the two countries’ Trade and Investment Facilitation Agreement meeting last February 24.
Under Section 182 of the US Trade Act of 1974, the USTR is tasked to tag countries that “do not provide an adequate level of IPR protection or enforcement, or market access for persons relying on intellectual property protection” under a so-called Priority Watch List; and those countries with IPR problems which merit bilateral attention, under an ordinary Watch List. Depending on the classification that a country falls in, the US may decide to impose varying degrees of trade sanctions.
In the USTR 2010 Special 301 Report on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), the Philippines was among the twenty-nine (29) US trading partners listed on the lower-level Watch List. The countries in the higher-level Priority Watch List or those that do not provide an adequate level of IPR protection and enforcement are China, Russia, Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Chile, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Thailand and Venezuela.
Since 2005, the Philippines has been included in the lower-level Watch List of the USTR’s Annual Special 301 Report on IPR. While the IPR protection that US wants from its trading partners does not refer only to software copyright, it must be noted that last year, software piracy in our country stands at sixty-nine (69%) percent. This figure is very high if we consider that there are available free and open source software (FOSS) which could do as well as proprietary software. Our government could really help alleviate the country’s IPR status if it would take the lead and adapt FOSS on its computer processes.