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IPOPHL signals crackdown on illegal streaming devices

REUTERS

THE Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) said it is pushing telecommunications regulators to crack down on illegal streaming devices, joining a campaign kicked off by US trademark authorities.

IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba told reporters on Monday that the US Patent and Trademark Office is seeking to contain digital piracy and restrict access to illegal streaming devices, also known as black boxes.

“These have been proliferating in the market which, with a one-time payment of around P20,000, you will be able to access (US content),” Mr. Barba said.

He said that since the country has no law governing the use of such devices.

“That is what we are exploring with the NTC (National Telecommunications Commission). Because as I have told their chairman, the NTC has jurisdiction over black boxes,” he said.

“For our part, we can deal with the content. So, if ever, this will depend on the result of our test purchase and our coordination with the NTC,” he added.

He said black boxes were brought up during meetings with the US at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in February.

“The US is concerned because, basically, the content that is being used by the illegal devices comes from them,” he added.

The IPOPHL and NTC will be issuing guidelines following a review of their test purchase.

Mr. Barba said that black boxes are currently being advertised on social media.

“We will also check if these are being sold on e-commerce sites because we have this memorandum of understanding with Lazada and the brand owners,” he added.

He said the main target is sellers, who are subject to seizure of their inventory, though even users may be held liable for copyright infringement.

“For copyright infringement, users also have liability, for counterfeiting and trademark violations, they are not liable,” he said. “So, I think, at the most, what we can do (immediately) is to confiscate. We will give updates once there are developments.”

He said IPOPHL will also tap other members of the National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights such as the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine National Police (PNP), and Bureau of Customs (BoC).

“For enforcement, we need PNP and NBI as well as BoC because I think these devices are coming from outside the country. I don’t think those are being manufactured here,” he added.

He said that the IPOPHL will bring the issue up to the NCIPR, which meets monthly.

Mr. Barba said that some US groups have also proposed that the Philippines be reincluded in a watch list for counterfeiting. — Justine Irish D. Tabile

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