Hearings for intellectual property rights violations cases and inter partes cases filed or pending before the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) can now be done through videoconferencing.
Last 3 July 2020, the IPOPHL issued Memorandum Circular No. 2020-021 which provides an advisory on IPOPHL services regarding the conduct of hearings/conferences in inter partes cases (IPC) and IP rights violations cases (IPV). The innovative action was premised on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic particularly, the limited mobility in the Philippines and the need to observe health protocols and safety measures during the pandemic. Moreover, the circular cited that allowing the parties to conduct hearings via online video conferencing ensures the safety and convenience of the parties, their counsels and witnesses, as well as the Adjudication Officers, and other IPOPHL employees. It also ensures the continuance of the delivery of services of the IPOPHL.
Under the circular, the preliminary conference for IPC, and hearings, pre-trials, and trials for IPV, may be conducted via online video conferencing when the parties file a joint request addressed to the dedicated e-mail address of the Bureau of Legal Affairs (BLA) at firstname.lastname@example.org for the conduct of the preliminary conference, hearing, pre-trial and trial be conducted via online video conference. The circular required that the request must indicate the e-mail addresses of the parties.
The online video conference shall use only the platform to be prescribed by the BLA and as scheduled by the Adjudication/Hearing Officer. Parties will then receive notices via email of the time and date, and the link or information on how to join the online video conference. However, it is worth noting that any unauthorized sharing by any party of the details contained in the notice may be dealt with fines and/or other sanctions.
During the online video conference, the circular requires that all participants must be visible during the proceedings. The parties may be required to provide multiple angles when presenting a witness to prevent the occurrence of coaching.
The proceedings will be recorded by the BLA, and the recording will be kept as part of the case files. The stenographer must still transcribe the stenographic notes to be attached to the records of the case, certify the correctness of the transcript, and indicate that the hearing was conducted through videoconferencing. No other person may record the said proceedings.
Read more on Memorandum Circular No. 2020-02 here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1gbapdBIWlO80Dszj7mZXorR51JfAqLAM/view