Washington International Law Journal


Grace P. Nerona


The Philippines enacted the Intellectual Property Code ("IPC") on June 6, 1997 to comply with its World Trade Organization ("WTO") treaty obligations and to respond to U.S. concerns regarding intellectual property protection in the Philippines. The IPC streamlines administrative procedures, increases criminal penalties for copyright infringement, and provides copyright protection for computer software. Despite the enactment of the IPC, the United States has kept the Philippines on its Special 301 "Watch List" of intellectual property rights violators. The United States maintains that the level of intellectual property protection in the Philippines is inadequate and ineffective, particularly in the areas of software and enforcement. The United States is pressuring the Philippines to improve its intellectual property protection, threatening trade sanctions against the Philippines if it fails to do so. The decision to keep the Philippines on the Special 301 Watch List is unreasonable. The use of Special 301 directly conflicts with the U.S. obligations under the WTO. Moreover, the decision to place a country on the Watch List is often influenced by private industries. Even if Special 301 didn't comply with U.S. obligations under the WTO, the U.S. position that the Philippines denies adequate intellectual property protection is unjustified. Special 301 unfairly requires the Philippines to go beyond intellectual property protection standards required by international treaties. The United States has failed to consider that the Philippines has implemented both short-term and long-term solutions to address piracy and improve enforcement of intellectual property rights. The United States has also failed to consider the Philippines' level of economic development when evaluating Philippine efforts to improve intellectual property protection.

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