U.S. Embassy, Philippine Law Enforcement, and Local Industry Team Up for Fight Against Smuggling

U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Fight IT, and Law Enforcement team up versus smuggling. Law enforcers from the Bureau of Customs, National Bureau of Investigation, and Philippine National Police (lower photo) participate in a conference on strengthening law enforcement processes against counterfeit products.

Thirty-seven law enforcers from the Bureau of Customs, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and Philippine National Police (PNP) join a workshop to learn to enforce action against trademark violators, and build solid cases leading to successful prosecutions. The U.S. government agency, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is leading the workshop, with support from the Fight Illicit Trade movement, the anti-smuggling initiative of the Federation of Philippine Industries.

The workshop will increase the participants’ understanding of the critical role of law enforcement in the successful pursuit of counterfeit products cases and improve cooperation between government and private experts in the field of intellectual property protection.

Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) Director General Atty. Josephine R. Santiago highlighted the importance of collaboration in her opening address:

“One of our key areas of focus is combatting counterfeit goods and this workshop is very timely in its message on collaboration between government and the private sector. If we are to make a dent in this issue we must all be better equipped in our investigation techniques and in pushing through cases all the way to successful prosecution. This is the only way we can achieve a suitable deterrent.”

U.S. HSI Attaché Ransom J. Avilla also highlighted the significance of addressing intellectual property violations through partnerships in his opening remarks:

“These partnerships with the Philippine government and the private sector are how we are able to detect, interdict, and assist with Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) violations. Due to the transnational nature of these crimes, we depend on these partnerships for successful outcomes.”

Attaché Avilla further explained that the training is hands-on and designed to be interactive. The training demonstrates to the enforcers the individual steps required to build a successful trademark violation case, beginning with the application of a search warrant.

During the workshop, U.S. Embassy Economic Officer Brian Breuhaus highlighted the progress the Philippines has made on IPR issues. Following several decades on the Special 301 report Watch list, which identifies countries who deny adequate effective protection for IPR, the Philippines has been removed from list for the last three consecutive years. He attributed the country’s delisting to a coordinated effort by the government led by the National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR). The NCIPR is composed of 12 agencies, which include the IPOPHL, Department of Justice, NBI and PNP.


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