OICCI decries slow progress on IPR regime development

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KARACHI: During a scathing letter to the prime minister’s adviser on commerce and investment, the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) has complained that the progress on developing an efficient regime for property rights (IPR) like trademarks, patents and copyrights has been “well below the specified level”.

The representative body of quite 200 foreign investors reminded Commerce Adviser Abdul Razak Dawood the difficulty needs “attention and focus from top government authorities” to make sure the country attracts foreign direct investment.

The letter, available with Dawn, highlighted the poor response from the govt to the consolidated feedback that OICCI members submitted on the proposed amendments to the IP legislation in 2019. “No update (has been) received on whether the IP laws are approved,” it said.

Although the term “trade secret” is recognised as an intellectual right within the preamble of the IPO Act 2012, the particular law doesn’t offer any protection to an equivalent , the letter said.

“It is our understanding that this matter may be a constraint for foreign investment… international companies don’t found out operations in Pakistan, and don’t partner with Pakistani companies, as their trade secrets, which include, inter alia, specifications and formulae, aren’t protected by law,” it said.

While the database of the property Organisation of Pakistan (IPOP) has been “digitalised,” its system has an “extremely slow” time interval and shows multiple errors at different stages while checking out trademarks. the web site is offline “very frequently” and search results are inconclusive.

Online applications receive “a filing date of 1 month later, which defeats the aim of digital filing,” it said, noting that there’s no update on hearings for opposition proceedings. “This may be a major setback that causes substantial delays in IP processes.”

According to OICCI members, IPOP should perform its own due diligence on new IP filings to work out whether or not they are materially almost like ones which will exist already . Currently, IPOP “seems to be accepting” all applications and publishing them. this suggests companies must pay a lawyer whenever a replacement application is formed to file an objection against an IPR materially almost like an IPR registered earlier.

The OICCI suggested the govt should introduce a corporation Direct Access feature within the IPOP online system.

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