HomeCommentaryObserving the rule of law during pandemic

Observing the rule of law during pandemic

"This pandemic drove home the lesson that to stay safe, we need everybody to stay safe"

Patent waivers for vaccines were on the news in the past months, making the intellectual property rights issue during the pandemic a public issue.

The intellectual property waivers urged countries not to enforce, apply or implement patents and other exclusivities that could impede the production and supply of medical tools and vaccines during the pandemic.

The waiver would send a crucial signal to potential manufacturers that they can start producing needed COVID-19 medical tools without fear of being blocked by patents or other monopolies.

The rationale is that by forcing manufacturers to share their intellectual property for vaccines, other manufacturers can start to produce it and thereby increase supply.

Intellectual property rights (IP rights) are the rights given to persons over the creations of their minds, such as copyright, trademark, patent, utility model, and industrial design.

IP rights give the creator an exclusive right over the use of one’s creation for a certain period of time, ensuring that he or she is given due recognition or remuneration for his effort.

The governing local law is Republic Act No. RA 8293, otherwise known as the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.

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The IP Code defines patentable inventions as any technical solution of a problem in any field of human activity, which is new, involves an inventive step and is industrially applicable. It may be, or may relate to, a product, or process, or an improvement.

The right to a patent belongs to the inventor, his heirs, or assigns. When two or more persons have jointly made an invention, the right to a patent shall belong to them jointly.

The Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices is one of the leading law firms in the country engaged in intellectual property prosecution, maintenance, licensing, and enforcement.

The 45 years of existence of SVBB law offices, during which it witnessed episodes of political turmoil and economic crisis, are a testament to the sterling character and resilience of the partners, lawyers and staff of the firm.

Established on August 1, 1976, the heart and soul of SVBB was forged by the vision and leadership of its founders, classmates Eugene A. Tan and Ignacio Sapalo, both of the Ateneo School of Law.

Aside from intellectual property law, SVBB later evolved into a full service law firm with diversified practice areas in Philippine law, including corporation/taxation, litigation and labor (specifically seafarers’ claims) with branch offices in Cebu, Davao, Iloilo and Cagayan de Oro.

“Serving with a heart; driven to master change” is SVBB’s motto that captures succinctly what the firm is, its culture and values in the protection of the clients’ interests with sensitivity, care, and attention.

“When the world has put a stop to this pandemic, it will usher in many changes, hopefully to make the world better. Our firm’s motto, ‘Driven to Master Change,’ should come into play,” said Atty. Sapalo, managing partner, on the occasion of the firm’s 45th anniversary.

“This pandemic drove home the lesson that to stay safe, we need everybody to stay safe,” he said, adding that it means that “we should not only think of our own interests but also those of others.”

Recognized as the “Father of the IP Code,” Atty. Sapalo is former director of the then Bureau of Patents, Trademarks, and Technology Transfer (now the IPOPhil). He worked for the passage of the IP Code in 1998 that aligned Philippine intellectual property laws with international standards and practices.

Atty. Sapalo stressed that lawyers should ferret out the truth in every case they handle, carefully balancing contending interests to reach fair and just results, and always staying within the bounds of the rule of law.

Given the important role of Filipino seafarers, the firm also remains to be one of the leading movers advocating seafarers’ rights through initiatives showcasing its commitment to the principle of social justice.

The firm cooperates with various stakeholders, such as the Church-based Apostleship of the Seas/Stella Maris Philippines, in ensuring better protection and more benefits for seafarers.

(Atty. Dennis Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, email [email protected], or call 09175025808 or 09088665786.)

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