E-commerce MOU gains more allies to fight counterfeiting, piracy online


Eight companies and organizations became part of the e-commerce Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that aims to lay down a code of practice and strengthen coordination among ecommerce platforms  and brand owners in protecting intellectual property (IP) rights online.

The recent signing, supported by the International Trademark Association (INTA) and the United Kingdom IP Office (UKIPO), took place at the sidelines of INTA’s 2023 Annual Meeting in Singapore on 16 May 2023, officially adding the new members, namely Pearson Education South Asia Pte, BrandShield, PUMA, Treasury Wine Estates, Honeywell, Josefina Manufacturing, Inc., Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI) and Sanofi.

“We continue to add more members to the e-commerce MOU amid a growing sentiment to curb counterfeit goods and piracy-promoting posts over the internet. We hope we contribute to building a safe e-commerce environment for consumers and brand owners alike,” said Director General Rowel S. Barba of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL).

As facilitator in ensuring the smooth implementation of the MOU, IPOPHL is helping expand the membership of the MOU – now at 27 with the new signatories — to create a greater impact.

The MOU provides an avenue where members can closely collaborate and notify platform members on possible IP violations, allowing a more efficient take down of online posts selling counterfeit products or pirated content.

The recent inclusion of two signatories from the pharmaceutical industry, Sanofi and SG-based PSI, will also boost the Philippines’ efforts to prevent the proliferation and sale of counterfeit medicine online. With their support, IPOPHL also aims to clear out the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) finding in its 2023 Special 301 Report that the Philippines is among the top sources of counterfeit medicines globally.

The MOU enhances IPOPHL’s existing partnership with the PSI, from capacity-building, raising awareness and exchanging critical information for investigation, seizure and prosecution purposes to addressing challenges in delivering safe medicines and ensuring integrity in the distribution of pharmaceuticals online.

“Today’s expansion of the MOU showcases the incredible importance of collaboration between the public and private sectors in addressing the spread of counterfeiting and piracy, especially in online marketplaces where almost everyone is today. This whole-of-society approach will gain us not only the overall health and safety of our consumers but also a stronger IP system that would promote innovation and competitiveness,” Barba said.

To recall, the MOU has led to heightened removals of IP infringing posts on Lazada and Shopee, which are both signatories to the effort. It has also been cited as a best practice in the ASEAN region in cultivating trust online to deter illicit alcohol trade.

A second annual review of the MOU is slated this month to assess its result and further fine-tune areas of improvement in its framework and implementation. (Joseph Nacino/IPOPHL)