Collezione C2 and Philippine Map

I came across THIS article on the Philippine Daily Inquirer about Filipino mass-chain label "Collezione C2" and designer Rhett Eala. It's a fairly successful brand here in the Philippines known for the use of the Philippine map on its clothes. 

Collezione C2

Upon reading the article further, this struck a nerve:

Qua did the unprecedented by having the Philippine map patented a few years ago, giving C2 exclusive legal rights to put the map on articles of clothing.

But this hasn’t stopped copycats from following their lead. Rather
than test the law by hailing wannabes to court, Qua, for now, at least,
would rather let C2’s quality and range of offerings do the talking.

My first reaction was: ARE THEY SERIOUS?

Now I'm all for patriotism, and promoting the Philippines, nationalism chuchubells but I feel uneasy knowing a private individual or company get EXCLUSIVE rights to use the national flag, country outline or map on clothes or any merchandise for that matter. The design is universally used by others as part of a national identity. 

If they modified the design of the map, added unique characteristics to it, then yes, why not? Because the new design is a variation…

Now I'm no expert in copyright, trademark or patent issues but to my knowledge, you cannot patent a design. You may patent inventions, yes, but design marks, no. You may only copyright it or trademark it. There's a difference between patents and trademarks.

Collezione C2 Philippine MapI did a very quick search at the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines website where I found a pending TRADEMARK application by a certain "Ramesh Mirpuri" about the use of the Philippine map on apparel and garments.

The application was filed on June 19, 2009. The image you see on the right is what they've applied for. There's nothing unique to it. It's not even a variation of the Philippine map. It is what it is!

You may search using this page. You'll see there are 16 applications under the search term "Philippine Map". Most of the results have modified version of the map or the map itself is part of something else.

It would be interesting to see what happens to this application. Patented a few years ago? O RLY?

According to the IPO website, Rule 101 of the Rules& Regulations

RULE
101.           
Registrability. — A
mark cannot be registered if it: 

(a)
Consists of immoral, deceptive or scandalous matter, or matter
which may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living
or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into
contempt or disrepute;

(b)
Consists of the flag or coat of arms or other insignia of the
Philippines
or any of its political subdivisions, or of any foreign
nation, or any simulation thereof;

Now I'm not sure whether Ramesh Mirpuri is related to Collezione C2 or
Henry Qua but that's the first thing I found. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong or if I'm missing out on anything. I can't be bothered
spending more time on this.

I dunno. What do you all think? I'm not hatin'. Personally I like the idea of using national symbols to promote patriotism but to try to get exclusivity on something that belongs to the public? Hmm…

Just wondering.

screenshot via: collezione c2