The author highlights the importance of Intellectual Property Laws in the light of factual steps taken for their implementation in Pakistan and points out why it is essential to protect Intellectual Property in Pakistan.

The term Intellectual Property (IP) is the creation of the human mind, human intellect and hence called
‘intellectual property.’ Intellectual Property, although a hidden property, is an important means of
accumulating tangible wealth. That is why, multinational companies and international corporations have
invested enormous amount for the enrichment of their intellectual property.

The properties are of two types, either tangible or intangible i.e. touchable or non-touchable. Car, house,
cell phones, jewellery etc., are some examples of the tangible properties that can be seen and touched. But
there is a kind of property that cannot be touched, for example, trademarks, patents, industrial designs,
copyrights, geographical indications etc. In R.C Cooper V Union of India AIR 1970 SC 564, the Supreme
Court has very rightly described the definition of property in a very compendious form:

“Property means the highest right, a man can have to anything, being that right which one has to
land or tenements goods or chattels which does not depend on another’s courtesy; it includes
ownership, estates and interests in incorporeal things, and also rights such as trademarks,
copyrights, patents and even rights ‘in personam’ capable of transfer or transmission, such as
debts; and signifies a beneficial right to or a thing considered as having a money value, especially
with reference to transfer of succession, and to their capacity of being injured.”

The importance of framing some sort of an internationally recognized agreement for co-operation among
nations for the protection of Intellectual Property was realized as early as 1883 when the Paris Convention
for protection of industrial property came into existence. The Paris Convention for protection of industrial
property was a landmark international event, when as many as 140 States signed the convention and
agreed to implement its provisions.

Pakistan is in the process of implementing its Intellectual Property Rights as the country suffered an
immense loss of Rupees 20 billion in sales tax per year due to piracy. The country is one of the main
producers and exporters of pirated optical media of copyrighted sound recording, motion pictures,
business software and published material. Many US companies bear loss worth of $500 million to $1
billion every year due to piracy in Pakistan.

An Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan (IPO--Pakistan), an autonomous organization of the
Federal Government was established on April 8, 2005 for the protection of Intellectual Property Rights in
Pakistan. The IPO—Pakistan is working under the administrative control of the Commerce Division. The
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and Intellectual Property Organization (IPO) Pakistan
are working to raise awareness of Intellectual Property Rights and enforce them within the framework of
the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property
Rights (TRIPS).

The violation of Intellectual Property Rights has become a significant issue in Pakistan. However, in
order to deal with this menace, a significant piece of legislation namely Intellectual Property Organization Act, 2012 (the ‘IPO Act’) has been passed by the Parliament. Under the IPO Act, the Federal Government
has so far established three Intellectual Property Tribunals (the ‘IPT’) in Sindh (having headquarters in
Karachi with territorial jurisdiction of Sindh and Baluchistan); Punjab (having headquarters in Lahore
with territorial jurisdiction of whole Punjab); and Islamabad (having headquarters in Islamabad with
territorial jurisdiction of Islamabad and KPK). It is significant to mention that there is a dire need to
improve the training and capacity building of the Presiding Officers working in the IPTs. In addition
thereto, it is also extremely important to increase the number of Judges working in the IPTs because
currently the Judges/Presiding Officers are burdened with an overwhelming number of cases filed in these
tribunals and it is extremely difficult for them to attend each case and do justice with the litigants.

If we talk about the working of the IPO-Pakistan, it can be said that there has been great improvement in
the workings of the Trade Marks Registry; Patent & Design Office; and Copyrights Office, but a lot has
to be done to quicken the process especially in the terms of increase in human resource, training and
technology adoption, etc.

The need of the hour is that Pakistan should take strict actions against infringers and aggressively
prosecute IPR crimes, especially in CDs’, food, beverages, auto parts and medicines. Our law agencies
must ensure that that Courts issue deterrent-level sentences for IPR infringers. Unfortunately, the previous
governments of Pakistan have never paid much attention to IPR issues, due to which investors are
reluctant to come to Pakistan and make useful investments. A nation-wide program should be launched
with object to create awareness regarding socio-economic benefits of intellectual property and its
significance to the right holders as well as public. IP law course as compulsory subject must be made part
of LL.B syllabus. The dream of implementation of Intellectual Property Laws in Pakistan can became a
reality if good governance prevails in the country and law and order situation is in a better condition.

Factual information for the article has been compiled from various online sources:



Madiha Salman

Madiha Salman is a journalist, freelancer and content writer for UMT-Office of Communications

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