A trademark of Filipino patriotism

Posted by Admin | Posted in Intellectual Property Law, Thoughts | Posted on 09-01-2010

Tagged Under : , , , , ,

I am elated by the sight of Filipinos, young and old, wearing the Philippine map and flag designs on their clothing – with heads help up high!  First, I have seen Pinoy rap and hip hop artists donning black shirts with the Philippine flag.  Then came the famous Philippine map logo (My Pilipinas) popularized by Collezione C2 designer Rhett Eala.

This new trend in fashion has resurrected a long lost feeling of patriotism in most of our countrymen. From Noynoy Aquino to Edwin Penaflorida; from an ordinary Juan in the street to models on the runway.  Everybody is wearing the Filipino pride!

But what about the Flag and Heraldic Code?

With Filipino nationalism becoming the trend, people are capitalizing on the map and flag designs.  RTWs with these patriotic themes are selling like hotcakes, not only locally but also abroad. It has become a favorite pasalubong of our kababayans all over the world.  But the fuss over this fad had relegated our Flag and Heraldic Code (RA 8491) to the background. It is not surprising because many are not aware of this law which was passed in 1998, the 100th year of our claimed independence. I do not want to be the spoiler here, but this Code actually prohibits the use of our flag as trademarks**, or for industrial, agricultural, or commercial labels or designs (Sec 34[c][6]).  It is also improper and unlawful to add any word, figure, mark, picture, design, drawings, advertisement, or imprint of any nature on the flag (Sec 24[f]) and to print, paint or attach representation of the flag on handkerchiefs, napkins, cushions, and other articles of merchandise (Sec 34[g]).

Different brands of clothing uses different shapes, sizes and drawing of the flag but retained its essential features – the sun and its eight rays, the three stars, and its red-white-yellow-and-blue color combination. These items apparently fall under the prohibitions I mentioned, especially that these are imprinted on clothing sold commercially.

**Under Section 123.1.(b) of RA 8293 (Intellectual Property Code) the flag or any simulation of the flag cannot be registered as a trademark.

What about the small Philippine map on our left chests?

Politicians love to wear it. That small proud figure of nationalism has replaced the small green crocodile sometimes satirized as greed and corruption. Good for them. It will make the job of their PR managers easier. They look so patriotic, if not pathetic.

I have not (yet) encountered a law prohibiting the use of the Philippine map as a design for commercial products. The shape of our map is not an intellectual creation. It is a natural geographical shape. No person can claim ownership over it. Thus, it may be used as a pattern or design for commercial products, logos, and the like.

Hmmm.  One “Ninoy” for that gray “My Pilipinas” shirt with a pink map? Not a bad bargain.