"I see the need for the Intellectual Property Office to meet with relevant government agencies and departments to be able to discuss how to address this issue and be able to solve this," IPOPHL Director General Josephine Santiago said in an interview with reporters on the sidelines of the 2019 Intellectual Property Convergence forum in Makati City.
Santiago was reacting to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) statement, urging the Philippines to implement effective policies to ensure that government agencies do not use unlicensed software.
She said government agencies must allocate a budget for the procurement of licensed software that may be used by their offices, noting that the use of unlicensed software may compromise the security of data being handled by the government.
"It is very risky especially when it is government having all the information that we have. The security is at the lowest; so you can say that IPOPHL really would like to promote the use of licensed software by all sectors of society," Santiago said.
For the sixth consecutive year, the Philippines remains outside of the 2019 Special 301 Watchlist of the USTR due to the country's creation of an IP Academy to develop IP education incorporating international aspects, the adoption of a multidisciplinary approach to addressing IP issues and its strong anti-camcording legislation.
The USTR noted, however, that the Philippines, Argentina, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Romania, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam, do not have in place effective policies and procedures to ensure their own government agencies do not use unlicensed software.
"It is important for governments to legitimize their own activities in order to set an example of respecting IP for private enterprises," the US government agency's report read.
The USTR's Special 301 Report aims to push countries to better adhere to intellectual property rights standards, by identifying US trading partners which it considers to have weak IP protection and enforcement system.
A recent study from the Business Software Alliance (BSA) showed that the rate of unlicensed software installations in the Philippines has declined by 6 percent from 70 percent in 2011 to 64 percent in 2017.
The rate was still higher than the average of 57 percent in the Asia Pacific region and the worldwide average of 37 percent.