Philippines

The last year has been a busy one for the Philippines patent scene. Before IP Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) Director General Josephine R Santiago completed her term at the end of 2019, she signed a memorandum of cooperation with Laos to improve the IP systems of both countries. The IPOPHL has been working alongside the Supreme Court to expedite the disposal of IP rights cases and revitalise its arbitration service in order to reduce the backlog; it has also opened its 16th satellite office to heighten IP awareness across the country. As patent filings continue to rise – numbers grew by 4% in the first half of 2019 – there remains a great need to support local inventors; filings from residents fell by 40% in the same period. This is expected to change and propel Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) filings even further, because the IPOPHL is now an international searching authority and international preliminary examining authority.

Firms

  • Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRALAW)
  • Baranda & Associates, an affiliated law firm to Rouse
  • Quisumbing Torres
  • SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan 
  • Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia
  • Esguerra & Blanco Law Offices
  • Sapalo Velez Bundang & Bulilan
  • Villaraza & Angangco 
  • Castillo Laman Tan Pantaleon & San Jose
  • EB Astudillo & Associates
  • Federis & Associates
  • Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles

Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRALAW)

Not only does ACCRALAW boast the highest number of ranked individuals in the Philippines chapter, it also commands the top spot in the firm table for the second year running. With 12 IP lawyers on hand, the side covers a host of patent issues for a multitude of clients, especially Big Pharma and generic companies. Its patent prosecution practice is even more significant and is kept busy drafting for local universities and filing locally for domestic companies, as well as PCT applications for foreign businesses, particularly those from China and India. IP head Alex Ferdinand Fider currently teaches IP law at the University of the Philippines and the De La Salle University, while engineer Richmond Lee takes charge of patent prosecution and enforcement. IAM Patent 1000 debutant Jose Eduardo Genilo is an expert at drafting patents in the mechanical and electrical fields.

Baranda & Associates, an affiliated law firm to Rouse

“Baranda & Associates provides reliable, efficient and practical advice on IP protection matters. Its creative mix of lawyers and technical personnel enable them to render quality IP services.” As a member of the Rouse Network, the IP boutique serves a broad range of global clients, providing “good, prudent and helpful service” from a compact but mighty team of four. Since it became a patent agent for the Department of Science and Technology in 2018, the firm has continued its growth trajectory and maintained its patent prosecution and drafting service. Beloved and well respected by his peers, Edmund Baranda is propelled to the apex of the individuals table. “He is very well versed in patent cases.” “He is very accomplished in the field of patents – he does a lot of work and teaches the subject. He deserves to be top ranked.” As these comments demonstrate, Baranda warrants his place as the only highly recommended patent practitioner in the Philippines chapter.

Castillo Laman Tan Pantaleon & San Jose

Traditionally a pharmaceutical powerhouse, Castillo Laman Tan Pantaleon & San Jose has been offering the full suite of legal and IP services for nearly three decades. Whether it is prosecuting patents or monitoring portfolios, the team draws on IP management software to ensure that its clients are fully protected against potential infringers. Founding partner Noel Laman is at the forefront of the firm.

Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia

Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia takes its first bow in the IAM Patent 1000 this year. The full-service law firm has been designated as a patent agent for the Department of Science and Technology – Technology Application and Promotion Institute as a result of its in-house patent drafting capabilities. Besides prosecuting government-funded patent applications in food, technology and medical devices, the 22-strong IP team taps into the firm’s experience in commercial litigation and licensing negotiations to carry out IP valuation; it provides a true cradle-to-grave patent service via its IP specialists. Trained in applied physics and law, Rowanie Nakan is well known among her peers. She recently led a successful defence for United Laboratories and Thermapharma in a patent infringement case against Warner Lambert and Pfizer at the Supreme Court.

EB Astudillo & Associates

IP boutique EB Astudillo & Associates is known for filing many patent applications as well as its dedicated client service. Staffed by a 20-strong team, the firm works closely with foreign associates around the world to protect clients from patent infringement. Previously trained in commercial law before specialising in intellectual property, Enrico Astudillo has guided several multinationals through patent protection strategies in the Philippines.

Esguerra & Blanco Law Offices

Popular among big pharmaceuticals embroiled in local patent disputes and facing enforcement problems, Esguerra & Blanco Law Offices is a full-service law firm that emphasises good results and the importance of developing long-term relationships with clients. Peers note that it is particularly active in contentious patent matters. Co-managing partner for litigation, labour and intellectual property Carlos Villaruz is a name to keep to hand.

Federis & Associates

Federis & Associates may be best known for its high volume of trademark filings, but it does not lack in the patent department either. A compact team of seven takes prompt action to fulfil patent filing requests and offer creative solutions to a largely foreign client base seeking to prosecute patents in the Philippines. The IP boutique ranked seventh in invention patent filing in 2017. Managing partner Mila Federis is a familiar face in the local IP community.

Quisumbing Torres

Baker McKenzie’s Philippine outpost, Quisumbing Torres, remains a fixture at the apex of the Philippines chapter. With access to the international law firm’s global reach, the side ensures that clients’ patent rights are protected, even across borders. Lately, the local team of eight has been supporting an increasing number of local patent owners in their IP matters. Bienvenido Marquez and Divina Pastora Ilas-Panganiban are extremely active in local IP-related events and industry associations – they have both been invited by WIPO to speak on IP enforcement, while Ilas-Panganiban chairs the committee on IP rights for the US and European chambers of commerce.

Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles

Despite being known for its expertise in corporate and trademark prosecution matters, full-service law firm Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles does not disappoint in the patent field. The only Philippine member of Lex Mundi represents big pharmaceutical companies, drawing on a global network of 160 law firms to resolve any patent issues. Previously a legal consultant of the Asian Development Bank, Rogelio Nicandro now heads the IP group.

Sapalo Velez Bundang & Bulilan

Founded by a former director and a senior patent examiner of the IPOPHL in 1976, Sapalo Velez Bundang & Bulilan has since expanded to five cities. It engages in patent prosecution and enforcement for a range of local and foreign companies across industries, working through a network of international associates to secure IP rights and enrich local jurisprudence in trademark and maritime laws. Engineer Ignacio Sapalo is one of the firm’s namesakes – his excellent reputation in the country has been established through a series of high-profile roles in the local IP community.

SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan 

SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan not only lays claim to being the biggest Philippine law firm, it is also one of the top patent practices in the country. Amid its 75th anniversary celebration, the full-service outfit joined the Philippine Business for Social Progress, which aims to build sustainable development and reduce poverty – making it the first in the Philippines to do so. Vida Panganiban-Alindogan took the helm of the IP group – which is “known for its patent litigation practice” – after esteemed luminary Enrique Manuel stepped down in 2018.

Villaraza & Angangco 

“A team of able lawyers who give clarity on the strategy and possible outcomes,” Villaraza & Angangco deservedly makes its first appearance in the IAM Patent 1000. “We only have positive comments for them – we’ve never had any negative experience,” one foreign associate enthuses, while a satisfied client quips: “V&A is the best experience I ever had with IP law firms in the Philippines.” Replete with technical expertise, six lawyers and a paralegal make up the proactive patent team that offers “correct and quick responses” to clients seeking to draft and file patents. It is not to be underestimated in the contentious space either – local generic companies depend on the full-service law outfit to defend them against multinational pharmaceutical giants. With a background in molecular biology, Ma Sophia Editha Cruz-Abrenica handles patent applications and invalidation cases with verve. She recently represented Innogen Pharmaceuticals against Merck Sharp & Dohme in a patent cancellation suit.

Individuals

  • 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 - Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRALAW)
  • Jose Eduardo T Genilo - Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRALAW)
  • Divina Pastora V Ilas-Panganiban - Quisumbing Torres
  • Richmond K Lee - Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (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