Philippines

The Philippines has had great success counteracting counterfeits and fakes. For the seventh consecutive year, it has not featured on the US Trade Representative’s counterfeiting and piracy watchlist, which reflects a nationwide sense of respect for IP rights. The Philippines is a leading source for globally distributed counterfeit medicines, and the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) received 80 IP rights violation complaints during the first half of 2020, a 66% increase from last year, with counterfeit and trademark infringement accounting for nearly half of all reports. To further strengthen efforts against counterfeiting and piracy, the IPOPHL updated enforcement rules to cover online infringing activities. The covid-19 pandemic also led the office to increase the use of online tools and to introduce online IP mediation. Even as trademark filings declined drastically from January to June – the IPOPHL received 13,064 trademark applications, which was 29% less than the same period last year.

Firms

  • ACCRALAW
  • Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia
  • Hechanova & Co Inc
  • Quisumbing Torres
  • SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan
  • Baranda & Associates, an affiliated law firm to Rouse
  • Betita Cabilao Casuela Sarmiento
  • Federis & Associates
  • Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles
  • Villaraza & Angangco
  • Bengzon Negre Untalan
  • Bucoy Poblador & Associates
  • Esguerra & Blanco Law Offices
  • MarksPro
  • Poblador Bautista & Reyes
  • Sapalo Velez Bundang & Bulilan

ACCRALAW

Founded in 1972, today ACCRALAW has 160 lawyers stationed in offices across the Philippines. With one of the most cultivated legal libraries in the country and real-time internet communication facilities, the full-service law practice has dedicated its resources to nurturing talent and top-quality service. Regarded by peers as “the oldest and biggest firm in the country”, ACCRALAW boasts some of the most experienced practitioners in the jurisdiction. Leader Alex Ferdinand Fider works across multiple industries, including sportswear and cosmetics for foreign and local companies. He is supported by Victor De Leon and Jose Eduardo Genilo, who both straddle the contentious and non-contentious divide.

Baranda & Associates, an affiliated law firm to Rouse

The trusted advisor to multinationals, including GlaxoSmithKline, Harley-Davidson and Viacom, Baranda & Associates garners high praise from satisfied patrons for its “proficient use of technology”, “unparalleled customer service” and “a high level of service quality with competitive professional rates”. Global companies have even made the switch to using the Philippine affiliate of regional IP entity Rouse exclusively for trademark matters in the country. Edmund Baranda makes his way into the silver tier of the enforcement and litigation table, with effusive peer and service user feedback – “he has a deep market knowledge and good insights regarding the situation in the Philippines, as well as valuable connections with authorities and investigators”. With former trademark examiner Claire Corral leading the trademark team, especially in prosecution matters, they make a formidable duo. “Edmund and Claire show extra effort in understanding client budget and providing creative solutions, which are cost effective and practical. They are also very responsive and never fail to keep the patron informed with status reports of pending cases.”

Bengzon Negre Untalan

Manned by a team of young attorneys with big-firm experience, IP boutique Bengzon Negre Untalan utilises a special case management system and software to manage service users’ portfolios. Aside from delivering the full spectrum of IP services, the firm’s strength is in trademark enforcement. Founding partner Ferdinand Negre is a name for the address book.

Betita Cabilao Casuela Sarmiento

“One of the best selections of counsel” for trademark work in the Philippines, Betita Cabilao Casuela Sarmiento rises to the silver tier by virtue of its many qualities extolled by happy patrons. “Not only is it responsive and good value for money, it provides excellent service in a timely manner and demonstrates good commercial awareness.” “The lawyers’ business acumen is incomparable to others I’ve worked with in the market.” and “By truly understanding our business, the outfit has provided outstanding work with clear and concise legal advice, on top of strong administrative support.” Serving for the past three years as the sole Philippine partner of the Regional Emergency Assistance Communications Team, a non-profit organisation dedicated to combating counterfeits worldwide, the full-service outfit is active in the enforcement space, but it has also been particularly active in filing Madrid applications recently, as well as providing advice on privacy and licensing. Described by a foreign associate as “among the best trademark attorneys in the Philippines”, Andre Philippe Betita founded the practice after a two-year stint at Baker McKenzie (Philippines), where he led the IP and IT group. He now dispenses “clear advice and guidance” to Fortune 500 companies about trademark prosecution and strategy, and he has been “very helpful in obtaining favourable results for our clientele”. John Cabilao takes his first bow in the WTR 1000 this year for his expertise in the trademark enforcement space. “His clear and concise legal advice shows understanding of our business. He also provides simple solutions to seemingly complex legal issues.” IP partner Joseph Sarmiento deserves a mention too: “Besides being responsive and attentive to client needs, he provides sound, practical and clear advice.”

Bucoy Poblador & Associates

Bucoy Poblador & Associates stands out for its exhaustive electronic database of Philippine trademarks and patents issued since 1969, as well as highly automated operational processes. Since it merged with Charles T Balcoff in 1951, the full-service practice has been aiding foreign clients from its headquarters in Manila and branch offices in Cambodia and Canada. Besides advising the current Philippines president and his predecessors, managing partner Antonio Bucoy leads a multidisciplinary practice focusing on corporate, tax and intellectual property.

Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia

For “quick results” and “a dedicated team to attend to IP matters in a very efficient and timely manner”,  look no further than Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia. The top-tier outfit is “truly exceptional” and the third largest in the country, home to a growing ensemble that tends to all sorts of trademark issue, from prosecuting trademarks and enforcing IP rights to drafting commercial IP agreements. It counts among its predominantly domestic clientele the Technological Institute of the Philippines, which recently chose the firm to manage its IP portfolio. The team stands out in particular for its strong female representation – the IP department is led by four female partners with Susan Villanueva at the wheel. The New York-qualified lawyer specialises in litigating and enforcing IP cases in court. On the commercial front, Patricia Bunye assists clients with IP licensing. She also manages global trademark portfolios for the likes of Filinvest Land – one of the largest local real estate developers – in multiple jurisdictions. With over two decades of experience in the IP industry under her belt, Divina Gracia Pedron comes “highly recommended” for her “excellent job in capturing our legal needs and always producing excellent work to our satisfaction”.

Esguerra & Blanco Law Offices

Dedicated to their patron’s best interest, Esguerra & Blanco Law Offices ensures that it delivers the best results for every legal matter by working closely with them and delivering practical strategies. With a broad IP practice covering a wide range of industries from advertising and food to information and communications technology, the general law outfit is a one-stop shop, though it is particularly known for handling trademark litigation. A well-respected figure in the local IP industry, managing partner Ramon Esguerra currently serves on multiple boards, including the advisory council of the Intellectual Property Association of the Philippines.

Federis & Associates

High-volume trademark prosecution and filing is the hallmark of Federis & Associates – indeed, the IPOPHL awarded it top trademark filer from 2009 to 2018. As a team of 29, the IP boutique handles local and international trademark filings for all sizes of domestic business, such as PLDT, one of the largest telecoms companies in the country, and Organique Inc, a company that makes açaí berry supplements. Further, its work in the enforcement space has been growing recently, as the practice took charge of opposing infringing trademarks on behalf of Chanel SARL, Philip Morris and Bridgestone Corporation before the IPOPHL, and even assisted world-famous singer Rihanna to protect rights in her nickname ‘Riri’. Alongside its growing trademark practice, the entity recently expanded its office space. With nearly four decades of experience in the IP industry, Mila Federis has become a well-recognised name in the field. She recently represented Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings in an unfair competition and trademark infringement lawsuit against Paperone Inc before the Supreme Court.

Hechanova & Co Inc

Established in 2005, gold-ranked Hechanova & Co Inc is an enticing option for foreign associates seeking assistance with prosecuting and enforcing trademarks in the Philippines. Although it was the second highest trademark filer in 2018, the IP boutique’s specialty lies in trademark enforcement and litigation, with 70% of its practice devoted to resolving contentious IP matters. It also frequently handles IP issues in the commercial space, particularly trademark licensing agreements and settlements. Described as “incredible” by a peer, founder Editha R Hechanova is central to the firm’s success. She is also an accredited mediator and arbitrator before the IPOPHL.

MarksPro

Whether it is brand creation, trademark strategy or enforcement and protection, the team of five is on hand at MarksPro to tend to the IP needs of start-ups and multinationals from a wide range of industries. Committed to understanding their clients’ business, the IP boutique offers commercial solutions characterised by personalised services. Founder Regina Reyes-Rara is armed with two decades of experience in the IP industry and is often on-site at anti-counterfeiting matters and raids.

Poblador Bautista & Reyes

Since 1994, general law practice Poblador Bautista & Reyes has been tending to all manner of legal matters for a multitude of businesses. As part of its comprehensive IP services, the team registers trademarks and carries out enforcement programmes as well as negotiating contracts and licensing agreements in tandem with its commercial law practice. It counts among its clientele the Washington DC-based Association of American Publishers. A mainstay at the top of the enforcement and litigation table, founding partner Gilbert Raymund Reyes has a wide legal practice, which reaches from IP and corporate law all the way to labour law and family law.

Quisumbing Torres

Fully plugged into the extensive Baker McKenzie global network, Quisumbing Torres is a “dependable” partner for famous global brands, including the likes of global giants Pfizer and Nikon Corporation. Ranked in the gold tier for their top-notch legal expertise and full suite of IP services, the general law outfit provides unparalleled advice beyond traditional trademark portfolio management to include data privacy. Service users truly enjoy working with them: “I like their service as they really put client welfare as a top priority and respond immediately to queries. For more difficult topics, they will let us know they will get back to us, and the answer that they give shows that they have performed thorough research on the matter.” Commanding the top spot of both the prosecution and enforcement tables, IP captain Bienvenido Marquez is a force to be reckoned with. He specialises in managing anti-piracy and anti-counterfeiting programmes, as well as enforcing and litigating IP cases before courts and administrative agencies. After focusing her practice on intellectual property, commercial law and litigation for nearly 20 years, Divina Pastora Ilas-Panganiban is now expanding into data privacy while obtaining landmark rulings in the Supreme Court. WTR 1000 debutante Reena Mitra-Ventanilla joins her peers in the prosecution and strategy table. Previously trained in civil, criminal, labour and maritime law, the newest IP partner has spent over a decade handling IP and technology issues. She now also heads the firm’s diversity and inclusion sub-committee on women.

Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles

Full-service law firm Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles may be known for its prowess in the corporate law space and illustrious history spanning more than a century, but it is not lacking in the IP arena either. As the only Lex Mundi member in the country, it can draw on the expertise of more than 21,000 lawyers across the globe to handle all kinds of IP matter. For more than two decades, senior IP practitioner Rogelio Nicandro has not only held the reins of the IP department, but also has taken up numerous positions in local associations. He previously served as vice president of the IP Lawyers’ Association of the Philippines and president of the Licensing Executives Society International.

Sapalo Velez Bundang & Bulilan

From its five offices across the Philippines, Sapalo Velez Bundang & Bulilan tends to its patron’s IP needs and promotes awareness of IP rights within the scientific community. The general law firm also champions seafarers’ rights and represents indigents in environmental cases. Its compact size belies a mighty offering – the six-strong IP team has produced a number of landmark successes in the Supreme Court and enriched local jurisprudence. Formerly the IP director for nine years, managing partner Ignacio Sapalo is a seasoned IP practitioner.

SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan

Not only is it the biggest law firm in the country, SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan has an IP practice that surpasses every competitor in client base and range of services, enabling it to sit comfortably at the apex of the WTR 1000. Since its establishment in 1945, the general law firm has kept up with the latest developments in global intellectual property by joining numerous international lawyers’ associations and extending its network’s expertise directly to patrons. Through its four offices across the country, the IP team assists companies from all industry sectors with the latest IP issues. After former IP head Enrique Manuel stepped down in 2019, Vida Panganiban-Alindogan took the wheel of the IP department and continues to enrich the IP practice. Besides managing, prosecuting and enforcing IP rights, she advises on competition law and data protection and privacy.

Villaraza & Angangco

Entrusted by large domestic and foreign entities alike, full-service outfit Villaraza & Angangco (V&A Law) offers “a highly commendable level of service” for all sorts of IP matters.” “With its vast knowledge base and connections, they easily deal with any and all IP issues affecting our day-to-day business operations. Its dedicated team has always provided practical solutions to our various queries, welcoming further dialogue and clarifications on contentious topics. It also understands our business culture, so it is able to adapt and be flexible to our needs and requirements.” After stepping down from his role as managing partner, IP veteran Bienvenido Somera now oversees eight IP lawyers, while assisting big names such as  Big Hit Entertainment in managing their local trademark portfolio for popular Korean boy band BTS. With junior partner Katrina Doble – who takes “a personal interest in her clientele’s trademark matters and provides timely and relevant advice” – they serve as the lead IP counsel for BDO Unibank, the country’s largest universal bank, as well as assist famous international brands such as Franck Muller and Samsung Electronics. “Not only do they have vast experience in the IP field, they have always provided practical and timely advice regardless of time and day.”

Other recommended experts

Making her sophomore appearance in the WTR 1000 this year, Veralaw’s Maria Theresa C Gonzales is a deft hand at prosecuting trademarks for foreign and local businesses.Over at Carag Jamora Somera and Villareal, Maria Trinidad Villareal takes the lead for enforcement and litigation matters.

Individuals: enforcement and litigation

  • Bienvenido A Marquez III - Quisumbing Torres
  • Rogelio Nicandro - Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles
  • Gilbert Raymund Reyes - Poblador Bautista & Reyes
  • Bienvenido I Somera Jr - Villaraza & Angangco
  • Edmund Baranda - Baranda & Associates, an affiliated law firm to Rouse
  • Patricia AO Bunye - Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia
  • John Cabilao - Betita Cabilao Casuela Sarmiento
  • Ramon S Esguerra - Esguerra & Blanco Law Offices
  • Editha R Hechanova - HECHANOVA Group 
  • Divina Pastora V Ilas-Panganiban - Quisumbing Torres
  • Regina Reyes-Rara - MarksPro
  • Susan D Villanueva - Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia
  • Victor N De Leon - ACCRALAW
  • Katrina Doble - Villaraza & Angangco
  • Mila Federis - Federis & Associates
  • Jose Eduardo T Genilo - ACCRALAW
  • Maria Trinidad Villareal - Carag Jamora Somera and Villareal

Individuals: prosecution and strategy

  • Alex Ferdinand Fider - ACCRALAW
  • Bienvenido A Marquez III - Quisumbing Torres
  • Andre Philippe G Betita - Betita Cabilao Casuela Sarmiento
  • Patricia AO Bunye - Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia
  • Claire Corral - Rouse
  • Mila Federis - Federis & Associates
  • Editha R Hechanova - HECHANOVA Group 
  • Regina Reyes-Rara - MarksPro
  • Bienvenido I Somera Jr - Villaraza & Angangco
  • Antonio Z Bucoy - Bucoy Poblador & Associates
  • Victor N De Leon - ACCRALAW
  • Katrina Doble - Villaraza & Angangco
  • Jose Eduardo T Genilo - ACCRALAW
  • Maria Theresa C Gonzales - Veralaw 
  • Divina Pastora V Ilas-Panganiban - Quisumbing Torres
  • Reena C. Mitra-Ventanilla - Quisumbing Torres
  • Vida M Panganiban-Alindogan - SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan
  • Divina Gracia E Pedron - Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia
  • Ignacio S Sapalo - Sapalo Velez Bundang & Bulilan