Many general principles are important for effective management of intellectual property rights in Pakistan. It is significant to have an overall planning to protect IP is protected differently in Pakistan than in the U.S. Rights must be registered and enforced in Pakistan, under local laws. U.S. trademark and patent registrations will not safeguard in Pakistan.
There is no “international copyright” that will automatically protect an author’s writings throughout the whole world. Protection against unauthorized use in a particular country depends wholly on national law. However, most countries do offer copyright protection to foreign works under certain characteristics, and these conditions have been greatly simplified by international copyright treaties and conventions.
Registration of patents and trademarks is on a first-in-time, first-in-right basis, so one should consider applying for trademark and patent protection even before selling products or services in the Pakistan market. It is necessary that companies understand that intellectual property is basically a private right and that the U.S. government generally cannot enforce rights for private individuals in Pakistan.
It is the responsibility of the rights’ holders to record, protect, and enforce their rights where pertinent, retaining their own counsel and advisers. Companies may wish to seek advice from local attorneys or IP consultants who are experts in Pakistani law. The U.S. Commercial Service can provide a list of local lawyers upon request.
It is always advisable to conduct due diligence on potential partners. Negotiate from the position of your partner and give your partner clear incentives to honor the contract. A good partner is significant ally in protecting IP rights.
Consider carefully, however, whether to permit your partner to register your IP rights on your behalf. Doing so may create a risk that your partner will list itself as the IP owner and fail to transfer the rights should the partnership end. Keep an eye on your cost structure and reduce the margins (and the incentive) of would-be bad actors.
Projects and sales in Pakistan require constant attention. Work with legal counsel familiar with Pakistan laws to create a solid contract that includes non-compete clauses, and confidentiality/non-disclosure provisions. The Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan is the government of Pakistan’s pivotal point for IP issues.
In any foreign market companies should consider several general principles for good management of their intellectual property. For background on these principles please link to our article on Protecting Intellectual Property.
Penalty on IPR violations
‘Intellectual property rights’ violations bleeding businesses’
Violation of intellectual property rights is a major reason behind low foreign direct investment in Pakistan as well as meager spending on research, development and innovation in businesses.
IPR violation in the textile and garments sector, software development segment and cosmetics space not only caused huge losses to businesses but also deceives the consumers.
The IPR Survey 2021, conducted by the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI), found out that IPR contra ventions resulted in loss of huge revenue to companies and the government.
The respondents expressed worries regarding the penalty on IPR violations being not important and insufficient to act as a stop. Further they added that the IP tribunals are not fully functional in all three major cities of Pakistan i.e. Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.
It takes one to three years to sort out a standard IPR dispute; claimed 37percent of the respondents whereas about stated that it consumed over five years.
The survey, conducted in late 2021, depicted the views of the foreign investors on the state of intellectual property protection in Pakistan. Effective protection of IPR comprising of copyrights, patents and trademark is critical for attracting and retaining foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country.
The survey discovered that confidence of foreign investors on the Intellectual Property Organisation of Pakistan (IPOP) accelerated during the year as it rose from 17 percent in 2020 to about 37percent in 2021.
The OICCI members asked IPOP for support in activating the IPR regime by automating and fast-tracking the process of registering IPs and improving awareness on the importance of IPRs and its impact on business and investment.
They also called upon the regulatory authority for improving the skills of law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to proactively stop the abuse of IPRs. “IPR laws are less effective in Pakistan due to penalties and ineffective work done by the law enforcement agencies,” said Arif Habib Commodities CEO Ahsan Mehanti. “Implementation of swift IPR regime would attract talent to Pakistan and support the small and enterprises as well as multinational firms of the country.”
He further said that “there have been examples of non acceptance in services and industrial units in famous brands.
Once the IPR laws are strengthened, the government would benefit from increase in foreign direct investment on the back of improvement in business confidence. Such a regime will also lower the pressure from the citizens and civil rights groups on the government.
“The sectors that bore significant losses due to IPR violations are pharmaceutical, home appliances, petroleum and chemicals,” said OICCI General Secretary Abdul Aleem.
Frequent violations of IPR result in huge revenue loss to the national exchequer and the country
Moreover, it slackens FDI and innovation culture which obstructs the economic development of a country,. “The OICCI members rely on their own resources for monitoring the threat of IPR violations. Nevertheless there is a great desire for all the IP owners to work in partnership with the government authorities for a better IPR regime in Pakistan.
The major concerns highlighted in the survey were absence of awareness and appreciation about IPR, lengthy timelines for granting IP rights, long-drawn judicial proceedings, inadequately trained staff at LEAs and low penalties prescribed under IPR laws for IPR violations.