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Over P20M worth of counterfeit cigarettes destroyed in Pampanga

OVER P20 million worth of counterfeit cigarettes were destroyed in Porac, Pampanga following a decision by the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL).   

In a statement on Wednesday, the IPOPHL said 261 master cases of counterfeit Winston brand cigarettes were destroyed at a non-hazardous waste management facility on Jan. 30. 

It was organized by the Vergara Mamangun Jamero Law Office, the legal representative of Japan Tobacco, Inc. (JTI), which owns the Winston brand.

According to the IPOPHL, the decision on the case was finalized after proceedings prompted by the JTI’s report to the National Bureau of Investigation’s IP Rights Division in 2013. 

“This coordinated process — from the seizure of the cigarettes to IPOPHL’s prosecution of the case and the confirmation that these are counterfeit leading to the eventual condemnation to dispose of the illegal goods — is all part of our nation’s IP system,” IPOPHL Bureau of Legal Affairs Assistant Director Christine Pangilinan-Canlapan said. 

NEW TRADEMARK RULESMeanwhile, the IPOPHL also announced new trademark rules for protecting non-traditional marks. 

Under Memorandum Circular (MC) 2023-001, which took effect on Feb. 14, IPOPHL said the amendments include acceptable representations of non-traditional marks, specifically drawings that depict a series of movements.  

The MC replaces trademark regulations of 2017. It also mandates that applications should include only one drawing representation in a single-perspective view if the mark sufficiently depicts all features.

“MC 2023-001 institutionalizes the protection of non-traditional visual marks. With this, IPOPHL is now clear with the acceptability of color marks per se, motion marks, position marks and hologram marks,” IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba said. 

The IPOPHL also issued MC-2023-002, which amends the fee structure of the Bureau of Trademarks. 

Under MC 002, the publication for opposition fee should be paid together with the filing fee. 

“The new payment arrangement will further streamline the trademark registration processes and minimize abandonment of applications due to non-payment of publication fees, making the amendment favorable to applicants, particularly micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs),” the IPOPHL said. 

“In the previous rule, the publication fee is paid once the application has been examined and allowed for publication in the gazette for purposes of opposition. All trademark-related fees, however, remained unchanged,” it added. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave  

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