November 10, 2011
On 18 October 2011, the Supreme Court En Banc approved the Rules of Procedure for Intellectual Property Rights Cases (“Rules”).
The Rules apply to both civil and criminal actions for violations of intellectual property rights (“IPR”) and took effect on 8 November 2011, fifteen (15) days after publication in two newspapers of general circulation last October 24.
The Rules are expected to facilitate the expeditious prosecution of IPR cases. In particular, special commercial courts in Quezon City, Manila, Makati, and Pasig are vested with authority to issue writs of search and seizure, which are enforceable nationwide.
To avoid undue delay in the resolution of IPR cases, the Rules strictly prohibit the filing of the following motions and pleadings in civil actions, namely: motion for reconsideration, motion for bill of particulars, motion for postponement intended for delay, and reply, among other pleadings. On the other hand, the Rules for criminal complaints prohibit the following motions: motion to quash the information, except on the ground of lack of jurisdiction; motion for extension of time to file affidavits or any other papers; and motion for postponement intended for delay.
In addition, the Rules also seek to avoid clogging the court dockets. The Rules require commencement of a civil action within thirty-one (31) days upon implementation of the search warrant or apprehension of violators. Otherwise, the court may lift the writ of seizure and order the return of the seized goods. In criminal cases, failure to file a complaint within sixty (60) days from issuance of the search warrant will result in the quashal of the warrant and return of the seized goods.
A summary hearing for the destruction of “seized infringing goods, objects and devices, including but not limited to sales invoices, other documents evidencing sales, labels, signs, prints, packages, wrappers, receptacles, and advertisements and the like used in the infringing act,” is substantially addressed in the Rules. This is expected to ease the burden of IPR owners who often pay for the storage and warehousing costs of infringing items.
Finally, the Rules allow rendition of a judgment after any of the following stages, namely: after pre-trial; upon submission of position papers; after clarificatory hearing; or after trial.