NBI 7 agents raid Cebu firm for ‘copyright infringement’

THE National Bureau of Investigation Central Visayas (NBI 7) has raided a Cebu-based firm for allegedly using the customized application of its Japan-based partner without the latter’s consent.

On Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, NBI 7 operatives raided the facilities of Aquarius System Inc. at the Cebu I.T. Park in Barangay Apas, Cebu City, through a search warrant issued by Judge Ramon Daomilas of the Regional Trial Court Branch 11 in Cebu City.

The search warrant was approved by Daomilas on Nov. 15.

Seized during the operation were several computer units, laptops, removable storage media, servers and routers.

No arrests were made during the serving of the search warrant, the NBI 7 said.

Arnel Pura, NBI Mandaue Office agent-in-charge, told SunStar Cebu that IBC Japan Ltd., a Japan-based corporation engaged in the business of sales and export of vehicles to other countries, sought the NBI 7’s assistance earlier this year.

IBC Japan asked the NBI to investigate and prosecute its ex-business partner, who was reportedly using their computer program in their business without IBC’s consent.

During the NBI’s investigation, they found Aquarius Systems Inc., formerly known as 100Tech Lab Inc., using IBC’s computer programs, customized application and related sub-processes to track vehicles from the date the vehicles were purchased to the dates they were sold and shipped to customers.

IBC said the computer system had been used by Aquarius without their knowledge and that Aquarius had not participated in creating it.

Pura said right after IBC reported the matter to their office, they conducted surveillance of Aquarius for roughly two months with their Manila-based cybercrime division.

The establishment was shut down for good after the operation; however, no administrators from Aquarius were arrested because they were not around. Only their employees, numbering around 60, were there, said Pura.

Pura added that no representatives from Aquarius had gone to the NBI to explain their use of the computer program up to the present time.

Not the first time

He said this was not the first time the company was sued by IBC, as the NBI 7 also raided Aquarius for a similar offense brought about by the same complainant in 2019.

But Aquarius allegedly chose to operate again after the operation, said Pura.

Pura advised companies to be mindful of copy infringement and stop engaging in such act because it is punishable under the law.

“Copyright infringement is against the law. You may circumvent it for a while, but the law will later catch up with you, so it’s better to stop it while it is not yet too late,” said Pura.

Under Philippine law, copyright infringement is punishable by imprisonment of between one to three years and a fine of between P50,000 to P150,000 for the first offense.

The punishment for the second offense is imprisonment of three years and one day to six years plus a fine of between P150,000 to P500,000.

Pura said they are set to sue Aquarius for violating Republic Act 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2002. (HIC)