The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) are urging local businessmen to use geographical locations as a marketing tool to build the brand of certain products and make them competitive in the local and global markets.
Both agencies point to the successful use of names of provinces, towns, cities and islands as brands for products being manufactured in these areas.
Prominent examples are Batangas barako coffee, Dagupan bangus, Guimaras fresh mangoes, and Cebu dried mangoes.
Building a product on the geographical indications (GI) scheme will likewise help build the reputation of the product, according to Letty B. Raz, director of the DTI Bureau of Trademarks.
The GI scheme can act as a guarantee that a given product possesses certain qualities, reputations or other characteristics indigenous only to the place of origin.
A product quality has distinct characteristics influenced by geographic factors such as climate, soil, humidity and traditional practices which may be considered value-added to the product.
For instance, many Filipinos now believe that the tastiest milkfish comes from Dagupan, that the strongest coffee brew can only be had in Batangas, and that the sweetest mangoes are grown in Guimaras.
Barako for example connotes not only a unique place of origin but also a certain process and specific time for planting and harvest. On the other hand, Guimaras mangoes are grown near the seashore which is known to produce a distinctive sweet taste.
Under the pilot poject of the DTI, eight products may fall under the GI scheme: Dagupan bangus, Batangas barako coffee, Lumban barong, Bicol pili nuts, Guimaras fresh mangoes, Aklan pina cloth, Cebu dried mangoes, and Lake Sebu tinalak. The scheme will eventually be expanded, says Raz.
Meanwhile, DTI director for public relations Thelma Murillo disclosed that the DTI is also proposing a bill to protecf these geographical indications since this is a form of intellectual property.
Through local DTI offices, IPOPH will also conduct seminars on how local manufacturers can use the trade or collective mark system to protect their intellectual property rights.