IPOPHL to Amend IP Code

The Philippine Trademark Office is in the process of drafting amendments to the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines. Our Firm’s partner, Joseph Sarmiento, is working closely with the International Trademarks Association (INTA) through his INTA Committee to implement much needed changes to make Philippine trademarks practices in tune with the times.

Among the amendments that will be proposed is the deletion of the requirement that an application that claims priority from a foreign registration should be registered in the country of origin first. This has been the bane of foreign applicants as this requirement is an unusual requirement that does not conform with the Paris Convention. Further, as Philippine trademark applications are now examined with relative dispatch (within a month or 2 from filing), a trademark application that claims priority from a foreign application is at a disadvantage as it will have to wait for the priority application to mature to registration first (which can take years in some countries).

Subtitles To Be Required

Television broadcasters and producers of television programs will soon be required to broadcast their programs with subtitles for the benefit of the hearing-impaired viewers as required by The Closed Caption Law. The implementing rules and regulations are to be issued within 120 days from the effectivity of the new law. Content producers should monitor the issuance of the implementing rules and regulations, and how this may affect them.  

Can copyright subsist in a useful article?

Since copyright subsists from the moment of creation without any formality requirement, it is easy for someone to claim copyright ownership over an object with artistic features. 
 
In the case of Sison Olaño, et al. vs. Lim Eng Co, G.R. No. 195835, the Supreme Court explained that a hatch door is not an artistic work within the meaning of copyright laws, but is intrinsically a useful article, which, as a whole, is not eligible for copyright.  The only instance when a useful article may be the subject of copyright protection is when it incorporates a design element that is physically or conceptually separable from the underlying product.  
 
To illustrate, a belt, being an object utility with the function of preventing one’s pants from falling down, is in itself not copyrightable but an ornately designed belt buckle which is irrelevant to or did not enhance the belt’s function hence, conceptually separable from the belt, is eligible for copyright as sculptural work with independent aesthetic value, and not as an integral element of the belt’s functionality.  In the same manner, a table lamp, being a functional object intended to provide illumination in a room, is not copyrightable.  The general shape of a table lamp is not copyrightable because it contributes to the lamp’s ability to illuminate the reaches of a room.  However, a lamp base in the form of a statue of male and female dancing figures of semi vitro us china is copyrightable as a work of art because it is unrelated to the lamp’s utilitarian function as a device to combat darkness.  

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