As intellectual property (IP) filings dropped in 2020 amid COVID-19 challenges, the IP Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) recently held a dialogue with partners in the academe, urging them to fuel the recovery of filings by focusing this year on commercializing fresh innovations.

Director General Rowel S. Barba

In its KaIPhan with Innovation and Technology Support Offices (ITSOs), IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba and Documentation, Information and Technology Transfer Bureau (DITTB) Director Mary Grace Cruz-Yap opened the floor for ITSOs to raise concerns on processes that need to be addressed so as to hasten turnaround times in registration. 

Barba assured that IPOPHL has continuous efforts to streamline its processes.

“Since last year’s quarantine, IPOPHL has been making significant progress in transforming its e-services to provide stakeholders a  smooth online experience from filing to registration,” Barba said. 

“Nevertheless, we recognize that there is much room for improvement so we continuously work to upgrade our technological infrastructures and eliminate stumbling blocks that hamper the timely roll-out of innovations,” the IPOPHL chief added. 

The Office also found that its e-services remain to be maximized by several ITSOs. As such, Barba pushed for its higher utilization among the 84-member ITSO network. 

He also reiterated the importance of DITTB’s push to develop an ITSO dashboard, which will be an online platform for ITSOs to track their statistical achievements in IP applications and activities and overall performance as an ITSO.

Helping ITSOs recover is critical, according to DITTB’s Cruz-Yap, not only to sustain the Philippines’ gains in the Global Innovation Index ranking—where ITSOs notably contribute—but also to generate technologies that can overall lead to economic recovery and social development. 

Housed in higher educational institutions and research and development centers, ITSOs assist creative minds throughout their IP journey—from IP awareness to patent search and drafting to commercialization and management.

In recent years, ITSO filings have been increasing, even accounting for almost half of resident filings for patents and utility models (UM) in 2019. However, in 2020, their filings for UM fell by 76% relative to the previous year’s filings. Meanwhile, their applications plunged by 69% for industrial designs and 62 percent for patents. 

“These ending numbers are understandable given the disruption of COVID-19. We needed time to adjust, to transition and to survey the new normal. But more than a year into the pandemic, we can no longer continue to be weighed down by it,” Cruz-Yap said. 

“We must strive to rise again. And we have high hopes on ITSOs to turn around the lackluster innovation scene in 2020 to the vibrant environment it used to be before COVID-19, or even better,” she added. 

Amid challenging conditions in 2020, seven universities rose to the occasion and were recognized by IPOPHL during the KaIPhan.  Platinum winners were Caraga State University, Samar State University and Central Mindanao University.   Gold winners include University of Southeastern Philippines, Eastern Visayas State University, Cavite State University, and University of the Philippines  Manila.

Source: Manila Bulletin (