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To improve IP regime, Pakistan needs robust infrastructure, competent manpower

23 January 2024

To improve IP regime, Pakistan needs robust infrastructure, competent manpower

Sana Shaikh Fikree, Senior Associate, Vellani & Vellani, Karachi

Sana Shaikh Fikree, senior associate at Vellani & Vellani in Karachi, said that as Pakistan continues to stride toward a more modernized intellectual property rights ecosystem, it becomes important for the country to have a robust infrastructure and competent human resources.

“A wide range of training initiatives need to be undertaken to ensure availability of adequate infrastructure, procedures and trained manpower at all levels – be it judiciary, enforcement agencies or officers at the IP offices – to adapt to new challenges and provide effective enforcement of IP rights in Pakistan,” she said.

Fikree was reacting to United States Intellectual Property Counsellor for South Asia John Cabeca’s expression of support for the Pakistan government’s efforts to improve the country’s IP regime. Cabeca and his delegation visited the Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan (IPO-Pakistan) headquarters in November 2023, where he promised capacity-building and technical assistance initiatives for the country.

According to Fikree, the recent notable efforts undertaken by Pakistan were its accession to the Madrid system and the establishment of a legal framework for the protection of geographical indications and the amendment of the Trade Marks Ordinance 2001.

“The Trade Marks Ordinance 2001 has been amended to provide the much-needed legislative framework for trademark filings under the Madrid System, and includes detailed provisions with regard to the processing of applications under the Madrid Protocol either originating from Pakistan, or where Pakistan has been designated,” said Fikree. 

In addition, IPO-Pakistan has expanded its IP tribunals to Rawalpindi and Queta, upping its number to five, with existing ones in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad.

More are underway: The patent law is intended to be revised to align Pakistan’s patent processes with international best practices. The copyright law is also set to be amended, and IPO-Pakistan plans to accede to the Patent Cooperation Treaty by 2026. “Such accession is likely to enhance patent protection and promote commercialization,” Fikree noted. 

Cabeca expressed his satisfaction with IPO-Pakistan’s efforts in steering the country along the course toward a more vibrant IP sector. However, despite the United States Trade Representative’s 2023 special report on IP protection and enforcement indicating that Pakistan has scored some improvements, the country remains on its watch list.

- Espie Angelica A. de Leon

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