IPOPHL, IP Key SEA team up for 2nd Philippine Geographical Indications Forum

The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) has partnered once again with the IP Key Southeast Asia (IP Key SEA), this time to hold the country’s second National Forum on Geographical Indications (GIs) on May 22 to 24, 2023.

The forum will gather officials from various relevant government agencies, international GI experts and local producers, weavers and artisans to discuss how GI can bolster the value of the country’s premium goods and even cultural products.

No less than Senate President Pro Tempore Loren B. Legarda and Pangasinan Fourth District Representative Christopher “Toff” V.P. de Venecia are set to join as keynote speakers.

“IPOPHL welcomes our partners in Congress and the Senate as their advocacies and programs will form a significant part of mainstreaming GI initiatives, especially since they are avid champions of creativity, innovation, and the promotion of native, unique heritage products,” IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba said.

The forum will also feature a lecture series and exchange of best practices by resource speakers from different countries with successful GI regimes. International GI experts will be coming from France, Switzerland, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Local producers of Guimaras Mangoes, Lake Sebu T’nalak and the Bikol Pili — some of the most successful Philippine collective marks now gearing for GI registration — will likewise share their experience and knowledge in GI development.

The forum will also unveil an exhibit of 24 distinct and indigenous products from all over the country, all of which are considered potential GIs owing to their characteristics, quality and reputation highly attributed to the factors affecting their production such as area of origin, unique and traditional production practices, and other human interventions.

Aside from the three collective mark-protected products mentioned above, other  potential GIs include the: Benguet Strawberry, Benguet Cacao, Davao Cacao, Cordillera Heirloom Rice, Piña Calauan, Bohol Ube Kinampay and Davao Pummelo for agri products; Batangas Barako Coffee, Laguna Coffee, Cebu Dried Mangoes and Bohol’s Asin Tibuok for foodstuffs; Lambanog from Batangas, Laguna and Quezon for wines and spirits; Buhi Weave from Camarines Sur, Liliw Footwear and Lumban Embroidered Barong from Laguna, Sabutan Weave (Aurora), Aklan Piña Fiber, Bagtason Loom of Antique and Yakan Cloth (from Zamboanga and Basilan) for clothing and textiles; and, Paete wood carvings (Laguna) and Basey Banig (Samar) for handicrafts.

The forum is expected to bolster participants and stakeholders’ knowledge and appreciation of the benefits of GI registration as a branding tool. Based on the experience of successful GI regimes such as that of the EU-assisted IP offices, GIs enable greater market access, promote rural development and could protect and preserve indigenous knowledge and identity.

Some examples of GIs protected in other countries are the “Champagne” from the province of Champagne in northeast France; Kampot pepper from Cambodia and Lamphun Thai silk in Thailand. The IPOPHL invited GI experts from these jurisdictions to share their experiences and level the understanding of local GI stakeholders, as well as cognizant government agencies whose representatives will also join the forum.

Discussions will focus on “Developing Geographical Indications System: The Philippines Journey;” “Updates on GIs in the International Landscape;” “Awakening Sleeping GIs in the Region: Opportunities and Challenges;” “GI for Industrial Products and Handicrafts: A Policy-Changer,” “Securing GI Protection Abroad;” “Socio, Cultural and Economic Dimensions of Geographical Indications;” “Management, Commercialization, Sustainability of GIs;” “Access to International Markets through GIs;” “Common Food Names and Geographical Indications;” and “Initiatives on GI: Way Forward.”

Aside from the lecture-filled event and exhibit, the forum will also enable participants to visit some of the production areas and manufacturing facilities of potential GIs in Batangas. The site visits will be hosted by the province on 24 May 2023 to showcase the creativity and craftsmanship of Batangueños through their very own kapeng barako, burdang Taal and balisong.

The IP Key SEA is a project directed by the European Commission and implemented by the EUIPO implemented in the Southeast Asia region that “aims to support the level of IPR protection and IP enforcement in the region and to facilitate market access to international trading partners, especially EU businesses and innovators”. As one of the active stakeholders, IPOPHL has been benefitting from the IP Key SEA project in molding the country’s IP system through technical and financial assistance, as well as various capacity-building programs.

The National Forum on GIs happening this month is the second time it was held by IPOPHL. The first took place in 2012 to assess the economic viability of a sui generis GI system and the best approaches to elevate premium local products to GI status.

However, the 2nd National Forum on GIs will be the first of such an event since IPOPHL launched its Rules and Regulations on GIs in November 2022. The promulgation of the rules paved the way for a sui generis system of GI registration  expected to, among others, promote and enhance GI protection, promote respect and the effective use of the IP system and build the competitive advantage of the country’s indigenous products.

Those interested in joining virtually may fill out this form to receive a Zoom meeting link. (Leah Alire/IPOPHL)