On 6 February 2020, as the covid-19 pandemic began to rage across the country, the IP Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) welcomed its new director general, Rowel S Barba. Determined to reach its goal of full digitalisation by the end of 2021, the IPOPHL continued on its digital transformation journey throughout the year. Among various updates, it launched online mediation proceedings and hearings, expanded its e-services offering to enable end-to-end electronic processing of IP registrations and protection, and introduced a mobile app to facilitate such services, including filings, registrations and making complaints against infringers. Filipino citizens are also becoming increasingly informed about intellectual property, especially as schools and researchers upskill their patent search capabilities. In addition, the government is further encouraging domestic innovation through the new Science and Technology Superhighway Project, which aims to fast-track 1,050 IP applications funded by the Department of Science and Technology. This growing thirst for innovation is not going unnoticed; the Philippines jumped four ranks to break into the top 50 in the 2020 Global Innovation Index.
- Baranda & Associates, an affiliated law firm to Rouse
- Quisumbing Torres
- SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan
- Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia
- EB Astudillo & Associates
- Esguerra & Blanco Law Offices
- Sapalo Velez Bundang & Bulilan
- Villaraza & Angangco
- Castillo Laman Tan Pantaleon & San Jose
- Federis & Associates
- Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles
Closing in on nearly 50 years of history, ACCRALAW is one of the oldest and largest law firms in the Philippines. Adept in all things patents, contentious or non-contentious – including prosecution and drafting infringement opinions and licensing agreements – the team tends to IP briefs for a diverse range of clients from its offices in Manila, Cebu and Davao. A prolific writer of scholarly works on intellectual property, Alex Ferdinand Fider captains the IP department. Richmond Lee is a dual-qualified engineer and lawyer who takes the lead on patent enforcement, while Jose Eduardo Genilo specialises in drafting mechanical and electrical patents.
Baranda & Associates, an affiliated law firm to Rouse
Size belies strength; with a team of just six patent lawyers and paralegals, Baranda & Associates is a force to be reckoned with. “Their creative mix of lawyers and technical personnel allow them to render quality IP service to their clients, as well as reliable, efficient and practical advice on IP protection matters.” The Manila branch of IP consultancy Rouse powers through patent prosecution matters, although recently it has been particularly busy advising on freedom-to-operate searches. Vouched by peers – “he understands patents and he’s really nice; we truly respect him” – Edmund Baranda is the only highly recommended individual in the Philippines chapter. A specialist in molecular biology and biotechnology, he is well versed in patent drafting and infringement actions in the pharmaceutical field.
Castillo Laman Tan Pantaleon & San Jose
Full-service law firm Castillo Laman Tan Pantaleon & San Jose stands out for its expertise in prosecuting patents in the pharmaceutical space. Devoted to excellence in client service and armed with effective IP management software, the team has captivated domestic and foreign patrons alike. Much of this can be attributed to founding partner Noel Laman, who has been instrumental in setting up and building the side’s IP practice over the past 30 years.
Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia
“Very familiar with the preparation and prosecution of patent applications in the Philippines, Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia practitioners give very useful advice based on their experience. I always refer them to colleagues or clients who wish to file there.” The lawyers are not only trained in various technical fields, but also continuously learning and improving their patent skills as a result of the firm’s high investment in professional development. Hence, the full-service outfit is well positioned to render the full spectrum of patent services. As a designated patent agent for the Department of Science and Technology – Technology Application and Promotions Institute, the team drafts and prosecutes patents for government-funded inventions. Recently, it has been tasked with providing freedom-to-operate analysis and opinions, as well as conducting IP valuation. A dual-qualified lawyer in applied physics, Rowanie Nakan captains the patent department. Among various achievements, she was involved in representing United Laboratories and Thermapharma in a patent infringement matter against Warner Lambert Co LLC and Pfizer.
EB Astudillo & Associates
Recognised by peers for its long history in intellectual property and reputation for IP litigation in particular, EB Astudillo & Associates makes its way into the silver tier of the firm ranking table. Established as a general practice law firm, the side has evolved into an IP boutique that adds the personal touch to its client service. Working closely with foreign associates, the dedicated team of 20 – including patent agents well versed in a range of technical fields – assists international rights holders in patent applications and enforcement. Founder Enrico Astudillo practised commercial law before focusing solely on intellectual property, extending his business acumen to patent prosecution and litigation.
Esguerra & Blanco Law Offices
Esguerra & Blanco Law Offices is a full-service law firm that provides creative yet practical patent solutions to a diverse range of businesses. Committed to delivering top-notch client service and forging long-term relationships, the IP department is laser-focused on producing results by working closely with its patrons. Carlos Villaruz, co-managing partner for litigation, labour and intellectual property, is a name for the address book.
Federis & Associates
Well known for its prolific trademark filing practice, Federis & Associates is busy filing patents too. Staffed by a nimble team of seven, including four patent agents, the IP boutique handles everything from patent searches to prosecuting patent applications for inventions, utility models and industrial designs. A familiar sight at international conferences, managing partner Mila Federis leads the firm with poise.
A standout in the gold tier of the Philippines chapter for its work on both sides of the contentious/non-contentious divide, Quisumbing Torres draws on the extensive Baker McKenzie global network to provide patent advice to big-name companies and local inventors alike. From its Manila office, the eight-strong team takes to intellectual property like a fish to water. It is also tending to a growing number of data privacy matters. Both IP head Bienvenido Marquez and co-head of the technology, media, and telecoms industry group Divina Pastora Ilas-Panganiban enjoy a high profile in the domestic IP landscape. Where Marquez presides over the Philippine chapter of the Licensing Executives Society (LES Philippines), Ilas-Panganiban chairs the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines’ IP rights committee.
Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles
The only Filipino firm with a Lex Mundi membership, Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles can find a solution to any patent problem – whether by relying on its local ensemble of 14 practitioners or by consulting its expansive international network of over 22,000 lawyers. The full-service IP practice encompasses patent filing, enforcement and litigation. Rogelio Nicandro is the contact to have on speed dial.
Sapalo Velez Bundang & Bulilan
Through its five Filipino offices, Sapalo Velez Bundang & Bulilan tends to the IP needs of both domestic and foreign clients, including JFE Steel Corporation and Dart Industries. It is also works closely with local universities to promote awareness of IP rights among students. A former director of the IPOPHL for nine years, managing partner Ignacio Sapalo boasts an illustrious career in intellectual property. Among numerous achievements, he was involved in writing the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines 1998.
SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan
Celebrating its 76th anniversary, SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan is the largest full-service firm in the Philippines – with a massive IP department to boot. Among its most prolific practices are patent filing and portfolio management, although the team is no stranger to resolving infringement disputes and negotiating licensing agreements either. Under the guidance of IP captain Vida Panganiban-Alindogan, the side serves a predominantly foreign clientele, particularly pharmaceutical companies such as F Hoffmann-La Roche AG, Pfizer, AbbVie and Actelion Pharmaceutical. Panganiban-Alindogan is also the assistant treasurer of LES Philippines.
Villaraza & Angangco
Through its impressive in-house technical capabilities and team of nine IP lawyers, Villaraza & Angangco is armed to the teeth and ready to provide the full spectrum of patent services. The firm files Patent Cooperation Treaty national phase entry applications for the likes of Alibaba, Gogoro and Kubota Corporation, as well as a growing Chinese clientele in sectors such as fintech, e-commerce and data security. Recently, it has represented a number of pharmaceutical companies to secure favourable decisions in patent cancellation actions, including Getz Pharma against Astrazeneca AB and Astra Aktiebolag, as well as Innogen Pharmaceuticals against Merck Sharp & Dohme. While bolstering its ranks with the addition of licensed physician Maria Patricia P Cruz, the side gives lectures on intellectual property to start-ups and university students. One happy patron states: “We send all our Philippine patent applications to V&A and in all of them, we have been pleased by their technical understanding of the cases, especially in the semiconductor production field. We are very pleased with their services – we appreciate not only the quality of their work, but also their quick responses and reasonable price.” Another client highlights their long-term working relationship: “When I moved to another company, there was no other firm I had in mind to help us on patent-related cases but V&A. Because of their professional approach, we have been marketing our products seamlessly without commercial interruptions related to patent cases.” With a background in molecular biology and experience in scientific research, junior partner Ma Sophia Editha Cruz-Abrenica tackles patent matters effortlessly. “Sophie has always been helpful on giving insights on what could be done using the most practical and efficient approach. Every step of the way, she extends her services by giving us relevant information from other countries and being willing to go wherever required, doing so with flying colours every time.” Bienvenido Somera also deserves a mention for his “professional and proactive handling of cases”.
- Edmund Baranda - Baranda & Associates, an affiliated law firm to Rouse
- Enrico Astudillo - EB Astudillo & Associates
- Ma Sophia Editha Cruz-Abrenica - Villaraza & Angangco
- Mila Federis - Federis & Associates
- Alex Ferdinand Fider - ACCRALAW
- Jose Eduardo T Genilo - ACCRALAW
- Divina Pastora V Ilas-Panganiban - Quisumbing Torres
- Richmond K Lee - ACCRALAW
- Bienvenido A Marquez III - Quisumbing Torres
- Rowanie Nakan - Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia
- Vida M Panganiban-Alindogan - SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan
- Ignacio S Sapalo - Sapalo Velez Bundang & Bulilan
- Carlos Villaruz - Esguerra & Blanco Law Offices