OICCI asks for Heavy penalties for Intellectual Property protection

Business

Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI), the collective body of over two hundred top foreign investors, has recommended a substantial increase in penalties for IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) violations to attract FDI in high-value research-based products and services in Pakistan. Sharing the results of the OICCI IPR Survey 2022, conducted annually, the chamber has expressed concern that IPR enforcement is lukewarm and is not on top of the agenda of key stakeholders, including the government authorities. The IPOP (Intellectual Property Organisation of Pakistan), the regulatory body for IPR, has been without a Chairman since May 2021. There has not been any significant action taken to strengthen the IPR Tribunals, especially in Karachi. IPR violations have denied the government considerable revenue loss besides endangering the life and well-being of the public exposed to counterfeit products, including medicine.

Commenting on the survey results, Ghias Khan, President of OICCI, emphasized that “timely registration of Copyrights, Trademarks, and Patents supported by strict enforcement regime is critical for building the confidence of the existing and potential foreign investors in Pakistan. OICCI, as before”, Ghias added, “will continue to support IPOP and share its international knowledge base on IPR towards ensuring a robust IPR regime in the country.”

The research-based foreign pharmaceutical companies based in Pakistan are pretty concerned that there is no linkage between Patent Law and DRAP (Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan) Product Registration, which continue to issue registrations to companies infringing patents, forcing the patent holders to approach the court for protection of IPR at a high cost.

Lengthy processing timelines for granting IP rights, complicated procedures for registration, and long-drawn judicial systems for protecting IP rights are the key issues highlighted in the OICCI IPR Survey 2022. More than 50% of the respondents believe that Trademarks and Copyrights get registered in 1 – 3 years, whereas 53% of the respondent (vs. 46% in the previous survey) record that it takes more than three years to resolve an IPR dispute. While most of the members expressed that IPR tribunals are functional in major cities, excluding Karachi, 32% believe there is no improvement in the protection of IP rights and enforcement of IP laws. OICCI members, however, have appreciated the increasing focus of Karachi Port Customs authorities in closely monitoring the import of counterfeit products.

In conclusion, M Abdul Aleem, CEO of OICCI, added that “OICCI works closely with IPOP in supporting initiatives towards strict monitoring of IPR violated products, more engagement with brand owners in Pakistan and improving check on import valuation which will go a long way in boosting the government revenue and manufacturing of legitimate value-added products in Pakistan. IPOP, together with LEA and media, has a pivotal role in promoting a high level of protection of IPR in Pakistan and attracting quality research-based products and investment in the country.

The over 200 OICCI members doing business in 14 sectors are the most significant contributors to Pakistan’s Economy. Collectively, they invested US$ 2.4 billion last year, contributed about a third of the country’s total tax collections, and employed about one million people with a significantly more enormous contribution to the community’s socio-economic development through their CSR activities.

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