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KARACHI: “The Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) has always championed the cause of protecting intellectual property rights in Pakistan which is critical for attracting and retaining FDI in the country,” said Irfan Siddiqui, president of OICCI, on “Intellectual Property Rights Day” celebrated worldwide on April 26 annually.

Irfan Siddiqui said that “close monitoring of IPR regime in Pakistan has always been a fundamental part of the OICCI agenda. Laws which give a strong protection to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) play a key role in encouraging innovation and creativity in people and society.”

OICCI stated that this year’s World Intellectual Property Rights Day’s theme, “IP & SMEs: Taking your ideas to market”, will help highlight the fact that a strong IPR is not only a requirement for multinationals, but a key point for all commercial entities and consumers. Pakistan’s recent accession to the Madrid Protocol has given local businesses, especially exporters, protection of their trade marks in 196 different member countries.

There are various indigenous Geographical Indication (GI) products in Pakistan (e.g. Peshawari chappals, Ajrak print and Sindhri mangoes). The GI (Registration and Protection) Act 2020 is crucial to secure worldwide recognition of the Pakistani products and has helped establish a system for the registration and protection of GI rights in Pakistan.

“IPR protection motivates innovators, promotes business growth, creating employment, and diversifying the choice of products available to consumers. Strong and effective enforcement of IPR legal framework benefits consumers as they get the feeling of purchasing safe and guaranteed products, especially healthcare products,” commented Erum Shakir, OICCI managing committee member and chairperson of the OICCI IPR subcommittee.

Sharing the experience and way forward for improving the IPR regime in Pakistan, OICCI members representing the collective voice of top 200 foreign investors in Pakistan, have observed that while the IPR laws in Pakistan are, by and large, world class, its implementation is far from being effective. While appreciating various initiative of the IPR regulator in Pakistan, Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan (IPO-P) towards facilitating IP protection and rationalizing the associated costs, the registration process for IPR (copyrights, patents and trademarks) needs to be fully digitalized and fast turnaround timing to facilitate all IPR owners spread all over the country.

This is needed to encourage new innovators and SMEs to opt for IP registration. Moreover, a fast track resolution of IP disputes, with enhanced capacity and knowledge sharing on IPR in special courts/tribunals is expected to accelerate new registration of IPR and build positive image for the country.

In conclusion, Irfan Siddiqui, OICCI president, observed, “We are proud of OICCI members contribution over the years in raising the awareness about the importance of Intellectual Property Rights in Pakistan for attracting new FDI, and in promoting innovation and creativity and jobs in the country . Working in partnership with IPOP and all relevant stakeholders, OICCI is promoting knowledge sharing for a more effective and business friendly IPR regime so as to encourage innovators in Pakistan and worldwide to share their invention, including latest patents in medicine, in the country. Without adequate IP protection, local innovators are unable to attract investments, business creation is slow, and jobs lost. Economic prosperity relies on job growth, and strong, effective IP rights have a role to play in creating both.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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