Last year saw the IP Office of the Philippines introduce e-filing for trademarks, which has significantly helped to improve efficiency in the IP system. However, slow opposition proceedings continue to undermine effective trademark protection in the country. Efforts are underway to streamline these contentious administrative actions and IP practitioners have recently been discussing proposed changes to trademark regulations; the adoption of these amendments is expected soon. The Philippines continues to be excluded from the US Trade Representative’s Watch List; the country has well and truly stepped up its game in the fight against fakes.
- Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRALAW)
- Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles
- SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan
- Baranda & Associates, an affiliated law firm to Rouse
- Bengzon Negre Untalan
- Betita Cabilao Casuela Sarmiento
- Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia
- Federis & Associates
- Quisumbing Torres
- Bucoy Poblador & Associates
- Esguerra & Blanco Law Offices
- Hechanova & Co, Inc
- Poblador Bautista & Reyes
- V&A LAW
Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRALAW)
“In terms of quality, ACCRALAW is one of the best IP firms in the Philippines.” Providing gold-standard guidance on the protection and enforcement of trademark rights and with a service offering that extends into related areas such as regulatory law and data privacy, it covers all the bases for its international clientele. Senior partner Alex Ferdinand Fider is a font of knowledge on substantive trademark law and has written extensively on the subject. He not only sets a tone of academic excellence for the group, but also leads by example when it comes to providing pragmatic counsel. Straddling the contentious/non-contentious divide with poise, Victor De Leon enjoys an excellent reputation in the IP community, particularly given some of the landmark victories in the food and beverage space he has secured. Concentrating on trademark prosecution, IP monetisation and transactions, of counsel Aleli Angela Quirino bestows wisdom born of deep experience on her clients.
Baranda & Associates, an affiliated law firm to Rouse
Operating robust patent and trademark practices side by side, Baranda & Associates impresses with its holistic approach to solving IP conundrums. An assiduous and discerning enforcer of trademark rights in both brick-and-mortar and online environments, the set has also been building its portfolio management practice of late, acting with acuity on behalf of a swathe of powerful international brands. The side’s affiliation with Asian and world IP player Rouse enables it to put a sophisticated database and market-leading IT management systems at the disposal of its clients. Edmund Baranda is the star of the show. He has now chalked up over 15 years of working in intellectual property, but has the strategic smarts of someone who has served twice that time. While his trademark practice focuses on enforcement, his patent practice embraces claim specification drafting as well as litigation. He has a background in molecular biology and biotechnology, and is especially active in the pharmaceutical field.
Bengzon Negre Untalan
Making its sophomore appearance in the WTR 1000 this year, Bengzon Negre Untalan is a dynamic IP force in the Philippines. Although it offers a suite of registration, maintenance and transactional trademark services, the highly cultivated quartet of partners excels in enforcement by taking a tactically astute approach; the team looks to strike hard and fast where it will hurt infringers the most. Anthony Bengzon, Ferdinand Negre, Michael Untalan and Jonathan Perez are names to note.
Betita Cabilao Casuela Sarmiento
Betita Cabilao Casuela Sarmiento is constantly on the lookout for new recruits as its IP workload continues to grow. Seven years after its establishment, the firm is in hot demand among international brand owners and overseas associates because it communicates “thorough, business-friendly advice” transparently and is always searching and identifying ways to add value. On top of that, “its response times and speed are among the best in the industry”. The exclusive partner of non-profit anti-counterfeiting organisation REACT, the set has made enforcement a key area of strength, while also being one of the top trademark filers in the country. The firm operates in a more streamlined fashion than its competitors, with its proprietary software enabling clients to monitor their marks in real time. Andre Philippe Betita knows black-letter trademark law better than most, having drafted a significant portion of the country’s IP Code. He has a panoramic understanding of IP law and dispenses percipient advice to brand owners on media, advertising, consumer protection and privacy issues. Pericles Jose Conrado Casuela is a transactional ace who blends regulatory expertise into his wide-ranging practice.
Bucoy Poblador & Associates
Intellectual property is a crucial focal point for Bucoy Poblador’s well-rounded commercial law practice. The internationally minded outfit works swiftly to get rights on the register, having carefully integrated various automated processes into its service. However, for complex matters a senior expert is always on hand to advise clients. Chief among them is managing partner Antonio Bucoy who leverages his experience across several legal fields to great effect and possesses a refined business sense that strikes the right chord with brand owners.
Multi-disciplinary Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia is home to an expert panel of high-calibre professionals who tackle all IP mandates in house, which results in a consistently high standard of service. Utilising a collaborative group structure, the team solves complex IP puzzles without breaking a sweat, making it a vital ally for administrative, civil and criminal trademark infringement cases. Meticulous and with an unstinting dedication to quality, the side also has a lock on prosecution. Crack IP litigator Susan Villanueva and brand strategy and transactional mastermind Patricia Bunye are the senior partners in charge.
Esguerra & Blanco Law Offices
Esguerra & Blanco Law Offices possesses a high level of expertise and an overarching focus on client service, which makes it a popular port of call for companies seeking a single contact for all legal needs in the Philippines. Understanding the commercial context in which its clients operate – and the wider trends prevailing in their industries – the team builds impervious IP defences to keep infringers at bay. The group is also unrelenting in the fight against fakes and pursues counterfeiters and infringers with zeal. A former president of the Intellectual Property Association of the Philippines and a longstanding director of the organisation, managing partner Ramon Esguerra has his finger on the pulse of the domestic IP scene.
The practitioners at IP boutique Federis & Associates are lauded as being “thoroughly conscientious and professional”. Keeping a watchful eye over global trademark law developments, the set applies international best practices in the Philippines, which explains why it is consistently one of the market’s top filers. The side’s popularity also stems from the personal nature of its service and the tailor-made solutions it renders for its clients, both in prosecution and litigation. Co-founding partner Mila Federis has accumulated all-encompassing trademark experience, having worked in intellectual property for her entire career – she is widely regarded as a true IP polyglot.
Hechanova & Co is committed to its clients; the IP team was formed in 2005 and they are dedicated to working towards the realisation of their patrons’ IP protection goals. By getting trademark and patent applications right the first time, Hechanova is efficient and cost effective in prosecution. Under the Hechanova Group, the side operates hand in hand with IP litigation set-up Hechanova Bugay Vilchez & Andaya-Racadio in order to provide end-to-end prosecution and enforcement services. President and CEO of the firm Editha Hechanova has refined non-contentious skills and can unlock solutions to both routine and unusual cases.
Poblador Bautista & Reyes
Poblador Bautista & Reyes is a reliable performer and can resolve virtually any commercial legal problem. It dispatches all IP instructions assuredly, but earns particular plaudits for its redoubtable enforcement practice; the Poblador professionals possess an arsenal of expertise and pursue infringers with dogged determination. Gilbert Raymund Reyes has a spotless academic record and has taught intellectual property to the next generation of lawyers. His legal expertise is all-encompassing; he is equally comfortable advising on corporate, labour, real estate, insurance and family law matters, in addition to intellectual property.
As a member of Baker McKenzie, Quisumbing Torres has the necessary resources to deliver results for cutting-edge international brand owners when trademark issues crop up and has notched up significant experience already. It can also give domestic clients access to a near limitless international network. Particularly well placed to take advantage of the firm’s global shared service centre in Manila, the Quisimbing Torres team proficiently manages portfolios, while also litigating at a high level. Gold-rated Bienvenido Marquez III captains the IT and IP group. He also leads the anti-counterfeiting task force of Baker McKenzie’s Asia-Pacific IP steering committee. Fellow partner Divina Pastora Ilas-Panganiban has cracked the code when it comes to trademark protection, but is set apart by her dazzling IP commercialisation and licensing skills.
Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles
This venerable full-service firm might have a 115-year history, but it has a contemporary look and feel that is a draw to dynamic rights holders. Well suited to the technical nature of IP practice, it navigates matters quickly through the IP Office of the Philippines without getting bogged down by procedural or other obstacles. In litigation and enforcement scenarios, the set is capable of turning up the heat, as it has proven time and time again in raids and in the courtroom. Executive board member and IP chief Rogelio Nicandro is the main man; with a long and distinguished career he is widely considered to be an IP pioneer.
Commentators unanimously vouch for the quality of SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan’s IP service and are full of praise for its “dedicated, highly professional attorneys”. Featuring in the gold tier of every edition of the WTR 1000 to date, the large multi-service firm has been as consistent as they come in the trademark area. Nothing is off limits for the IP division, which provides rigorous advice on all brand protection, enforcement and commercialisation matters. Leading from the vanguard is Enrique Manuel, an international thinker with a deft touch when it comes to international portfolio management and enforcement. Fellow partner Vida Panganiban-Alindogan exhibits dexterity in both contentious and non-contentious trademark matters; she dispenses sophisticated competition, regulatory and data protection advice too.
General practice V&A LAW acts as a key commercial partner to its clients, many of whom are renowned rights holders in need of guidance on trademark concerns; the firm does not let them down and can forge cast iron brand protection swiftly and cost effectively. When infringement troubles brew, the set frequently resolves them without the need for courtroom conflict, although it is ready for any eventuality. Senior partner Bienvenido Somera is an IP heavyweight and a familiar and popular name in domestic and international associations.
Other recommended expertsCesar Cruz’s eponymous firm caters for pharmaceutical medical device and healthcare companies, in addition to players in the high-tech space. Regina Reyes-Rara of MarksPro is a criminal law expert with whom counterfeiters should not trifle.
- 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
- 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 N 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