Philippines

The Philippines has now been absent from the Office of the US Trade Representative’s Watch List for three years running – a cause of much celebration for practitioners and brand owners alike. Equally promisingly, the new director of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL), Josephine Santiago, has signalled her commitment to tackling infringement with a newfound scrutiny of the efficiency of enforcement measures. This in turn is translating into impressive filing statistics, as domestic and foreign entities grow more confident in their ability to effectively assert their rights. However, a lack of personnel consistency at the Bureau of Customs is having a negative impact on the number of seizures that can be conducted and leading to lacklustre border inspections.

Firms

1
Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRALAW)
2
Baranda & Associates, an affiliated law firm to Rouse
Betita Cabilao Casuela Sarmiento
Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia
Quisumbing Torres
3
Bengzon Negre Untalan
Bucoy Poblador & Associates
Esguerra & Blanco Law Offices
Poblador Bautista & Reyes
Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRALAW)
Whether tending to the needs of local concerns or huge multinationals, full-service titan ACCRALAW knows what makes for tip-top customer satisfaction. “The firm has a really formidable bench. There is so much talent there – and the IP wisdom is passed down from generation to generation.” Captaining the IP team, Alex Ferdinand Fider “leads by example”, with a workload that encompasses portfolio management, licensing and contentious matters. Senior consultant Aleli Angela Quirino is a “goldmine of legal knowledge” who has mentored scores of IP lawyers over his career. Singled out for his perseverance, WTR 1000 newcomer Victor De Leon is someone who truly pulls out all the stops for clients; recent highlights include successfully representing a major fast-food chain before the Supreme Court.
Baranda & Associates, an affiliated law firm to Rouse
Baranda & Associates recently added several major international portfolios to its list, but the Rouse affiliate remains most acclaimed for its redoubtable enforcement capabilities. Close collaboration with the Bureau of Customs and a “consistently creative and thorough approach” make it the bane of counterfeiters far and wide, and a red-hot commodity in the IP market. Edmund Baranda is a force to be reckoned with in the patent sphere, but he is also an anti-counterfeiting sharpshooter. WTR 1000 debutant Lisa Yong serves as the manager of Rouse Philippines; she adroitly manages a host of portfolios for multinationals throughout Southeast Asia.
Bengzon Negre Untalan
Baker McKenzie breakaway Bengzon Negre Untalan is an exciting new name that has already proved a breath of fresh air on the national IP scene. Unencumbered by bureaucracy or the ponderous machinery of a large law firm, the exclusively IP-focused outfit is thriving, thanks to the vigour and dynamism of its committed practitioners. Handling everything from regional portfolio management to enforcement at the Supreme Court, it looks set to become a potent contender in the market.
Betita Cabilao Casuela Sarmiento
Elite boutique Betita Cabilao Casuela Sarmiento wins praise from foreign counsel the world over: “All the partners are responsive, dedicated, reliable and prompt in their advice. Working with them, you feel as if you you’re their only client.” The four-partner team has secured favourable results for household-name brands in a string of high-stakes cases, and prides itself on its uniquely personalised approach to both contentious and non-contentious matters. Managing partner Andre Philippe Betita is a regular in the Supreme Court, but also deftly handles filing and prosecution issues before IPOPHL; having helped to draft the country’s IP Code, he knows every line of the statute inside out. Pericles Jose Conrado Casuela is a go-to practitioner for licensing matters and IP-rich M&A negotiations.
Bucoy Poblador & Associates
Established over half a century ago, Bucoy Poblador & Associates is a real insider in the IP realm. Despite its long history, the celebrated team is committed to maintaining a position at the vanguard of both legal knowledge and client care. Prosecution heavy, it has one of the most comprehensive patent and trademark databases in the country. The trilingual and commercially savvy Antonio Bucoy is a favourite of foreign concerns, not least thanks to his stunning enforcement track record.
Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia
Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia makes light work of the knottiest trademark disputes and the tensest commercial negotiations. Having well and truly earned its stripes since the dramatic break-up of ‘The Firm’, CVC Law, the 15-partner team now represents the likes of Shell International Petroleum and Dole Philippines in hotly contested spats. IP partners Patricia Bunye and Susan Villanueva ascend to the silver tier this year on the merits of extensive trademark work. Consummate litigator Villanueva is also a trusted portfolio architect for the University of the Philippines, while commercialisation and licensing doyenne Bunye has few equals in the transactional space – she recently brokered a detailed licensing agreement for Cemex Strategic Philippines.
Esguerra & Blanco Law Offices
Celebrated widely for its patent firepower, Esguerra & Blanco is also a favourite of pharmaceutical clients seeking robust brand protection. Consistency, responsiveness and multi-disciplinary know-how are all hallmarks of its services. While it may be less established than some of its competitors, clients enthusiastically speak to the experience of its senior partners and the flexibility of its operational structures. Managing partner and contentious maestro Ramon Esguerra “goes the extra mile” to instil confidence in clients and achieve premium results. One of the country’s foremost boutiques, the compact Federis & Associates provides the full suite of trademark services to an ardent following. Outstanding results in must-win enforcement battles for international blue chips and prodigious filing statistics bear testament to its standing on the market. Co-founding partner and crack litigator Mila Federis is an “IP veteran who considers clients’ commercial needs first and foremost”. Hechanova & Co marries specialist IP expertise with the deep resources and business nous of a full-service outfit, to superb effect. The IP affiliate of Hechanova Bugay & Vilchez, it dispenses commercially astute counsel on all trademark issues at a sensitive price point. Embodying the team’s holistic approach, the financially sophisticated Editha Hechanova is a prime choice for companies seeking to get the best returns from monetising their portfolios. She wins warm plaudits for the rigour and precision of her thinking.
Poblador Bautista & Reyes
Intellectual property is etched into the DNA of the much-loved Poblador Bautista & Reyes. The 14 partner-strong squad is best known for its formidable litigation practice, but its offering is all-encompassing, making it a persuasive one-stop shop for clients. “Always masterful in court”, co-founding partner Gilbert Raymund Reyes leads from the front, notching up consistent wins in bet-the-farm wrangles.
Quisumbing Torres
Seamless integration into the titanic Baker McKenzie network makes Quisumbing Torres a smart choice for blue-chip clients with cross-border concerns. It is not only one of the country’s most prolific filers, but also a contentious heavyweight with courtroom experience in spades. Ascending to the gold tier this year, Bienvenido Marquez is a shrewd “strategist and executor all in one”. The IP group head has the expertise, the energy and the vision to exploit the portfolios of star businesses throughout the region to optimum effect. Having clocked up some 15 years’ experience in heavy-duty litigation and licensing matters, Divina Pastora Ilas-Panganiban is another ace on the team. Best known for its corporate nous, Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles is also a potent player in the IP space. It opened its doors in the heart of Manila more than a century ago and has since developed into a squad of some 90 agile attorneys who provide an A-to-Z service; it can also draw upon the sprawling Lex Mundi network to provide joined-up global coverage. Lodestar Rogeilo Nicandro enjoys a loyal following among peers and clients alike. “I really have the highest respect for him,” enthuses one interviewee. “He has been an authority in intellectual property for so long now. He’s involved in exciting cases and provides to-the-point commentaries all the time.” SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan is home to the largest IP practice in the country, but offers all the finesse and flexibility of an intimate boutique. The combination has proved irresistible to a host of prestigious names, including Rolex, Coach Inc and Colgate Palmolive. Sage prosecution counsel, crucial courtroom victories and signatures on the bottom line of lucrative cross-border deals are all in a day’s work. Brand owners searching for incisive transactional expertise need look no further than licensing guru Vicente Amador, who has served as president of the Licensing Executives Society Philippines. Department head Enrique Manuel is an industry veteran with a career stretching back three decades; he operates flawlessly on both sides of the contentious/non-contentious divide. New to the WTR 1000, Vida Panganiban-Alindogan matches deep trademark insight with useful ancillary knowledge of competition law and food and drug regulations. Having bounced back since the 2013 break-up of CVC Law Office, successor V&A Law has now restocked its bench with some impressive new talent. The venerable Bienvenido Somera is a staunch defender of clients’ interests and a thoughtful commentator on IP law and developments; he is a former vice president of the Asian Patent Attorneys Association. He recently represented ABS-CBN in a clash with Apple over a mark associated with Apple Watch app Activity.

Individuals

Alex Ferdinand Fider - Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRALAW)
Enrique T Manuel - SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan
Bienvenido A Marquez III - Quisumbing Torres
Rogelio Nicandro - Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles
Gilbert Raymund Reyes - Poblador Bautista & Reyes
Vicente Amador - SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan
Andre Philippe G Betita - Betita Cabilao Casuela Sarmiento
Patricia AO Bunye - Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia
Pericles Jose Conrado R Casuela - Betita Cabilao Casuela Sarmiento
Cesar Cruz - Cesar C Cruz & Partners
Ramon S Esguerra - Esguerra & Blanco Law Offices
Mila Federis - Federis & Associates
Aleli Angela G Quirino - Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRALAW)
Bienvenido I Somera Jr - V&A Law
Susan D Villanueva - Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia
Edmund Baranda - Baranda & Associates, an affiliated law firm to Rouse
Antonio Z Bucoy - Bucoy Poblador & Associates
Victor De Leon - Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRALAW)
Editha R Hechanova - Hechanova & Co, Inc
Divina Pastora V Ilas-Panganiban - Quisumbing Torres
Vida M Panganiban-Alindogan - SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan
Regina Reyes-Rara - MarksPro Phillippines – Law firm of Reyes Rara & Associates
Lisa Yong - Baranda & Associates, an affiliated law firm to Rouse
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Issue 70