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Reports filed at the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) have led to the recent seizure of over 600 allegedly counterfeit Louis Vuitton (LV) goods sold by the Direk Paul’s Classroom Facebook page––a seizure operation that went viral online as it took place in the middle of a live selling event with hundreds of viewers.
“The seizure is testament to what a report at our Intellectual Property (IP) Rights Enforcement Office (IEO) can do in driving dishonest sellers and unfair competitors out of the market. It also shows the importance of citizens’ and IP right holders’
active participation in our fight against counterfeiting and piracy,” IEO Officer-in-Charge Director Ann N. Edillon said.
She encouraged the public, especially IP right holders and consumer-victims, to immediately report counterfeit or piracy crimes to the IEO, either via e-mail or through its Facebook page.
The seizure of the LV goods was conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) at the violator’s residence in Quezon City. The NBI hauled 465 bags, 115 wallets, 20 pouches, nine passport holders and two caps, all bearing counterfeited marks of LV.
The NBI has yet to finalize the value of the goods initially estimated at around $1.8 million or P87.5 million.
The LV products, which are marketed as second-hand but still can reach up to P10,000 for a bag, are posted for sale with a payment-first-before-delivery policy and a warning that “authenticity [is] not guaranteed.”
The raid stemmed from two reports IEO received in December 2020 and January 2021 against Direk Paul’s. The reports were from customers complaining over the excessively low quality but highly priced products it was selling on Facebook.
One of the reports read: “Ang low quality ng pinadala pero sa live selling mukhang original [The product they delivered was low-quality but it looked original during the live selling].”
The IEO elevated the reports to the Asia Pacific Office of Paris-based LV Malletier which in turn coordinated with their local units to file a complaint before the NBI to initiate the seizure.
Before the raid, the Direk Paul’s page had 21,867 followers and was holding 10 live selling events per week.
“This case left us very confused and troubled, particularly by how much people are willing to spend for products without ensuring their authenticity. Meanwhile, there are those who find nothing wrong with buying so-called “Class A” products, which may be very similar to the original but are still essentially fakes. In the end, many have regretted not getting their money’s worth so let this be another lesson to all to be more cautious and stop supporting fakes,” IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba said.
Barba emphasized the need “to turn consumer preference away from cheap fakes, lest this attitude is carried out when purchasing other products like medicines which can have life-threatening consequences.”
“A massive nationwide drive is really critical,” he added, noting that the National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR)––which IPOPHL leads as acting chair––will be augmenting its campaign to convert consumers into buying only original products while also boosting its anti-counterfeiting and anti-piracy awareness program in light of the surge of complaints and reports at the IEO in 2020.
Meanwhile, Deputy Director General Teodoro C. Pascua urged brand owners to protect their IP assets by launching their information drives to discourage counterfeit buying and help their customers better identify fakes.
“The customers should know how to scrutinize labels, packaging and contents. Right holders can best share this information, hence, they must constantly equip their customers with these tips and remind them to be always vigilant when shopping,” Pascua added.
Aside from civil and administrative sanctions provided by existing laws, persons found guilty of committing infringement of trademarks may be penalized with imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to P200,000, according to Pascua.
“Efforts to increase these penalties are now being considered by Congress under the bill to amend the IP Code,” he added.
According to the latest NCIPR data, there were 33 IP right violators convicted in 2019, a surge from only two convictions in the previous year.
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