Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) is one subject that is consistently under the focus of Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) as a source of concern and a major deterrent to foreign direct investment (FDI) in Pakistan. The chamber has been tirelessly pursuing the authorities for enforcement of IPR in Pakistan. Ironically, none of the governments truly recognized IPR as a source of concern for investment.
OICCI has recently announced some key findings of its latest Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Survey of around 200 members who make major contribution to government’s revenue. Overall, 37 percent of the respondents indicated that it takes 01 to 03 years to resolve a standard IPR dispute while 22 percent stated that it takes more than 5 years. The respondents also expressed concern regarding the penalty on IPR violations as being too meagre to act as an effective deterrent.
The figures indicate that the IPR enforcement is not working. Therefore, foreign Investors, by and large, rely on their own resources to counter the threat of IPR violations as best as possible.
Under persistent concerns of the investors, a regulatory body, namely IPO Pakistan, was established in 2005 by the federal government to advise it on IPR-related policies and to implement existing IPR protection laws via dedicated tribunals based in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. IPO Pakistan works much in isolation and is not backed by the enforcement agencies; hence the IPO delivery is ineffective.
By definition, intellectual property rights are legal rights for those who invent. It provides creators and inventors protection for original works, inventions, or the appearance of products, artistic works and scientific developments.
Technology developers and inventors and all others in this category rely on governments for the enforcement of their patents, trademarks and copyrights. In turn, consumers avail quality and value for money when purchasing IP-backed products.
The ambitious Kamyab Jawan programme of the PTI government aims to develop the budding youth of the country with quality education and self-employment opportunities supported by low interest loans, angel investor’s and venture capitalist. Encouraging results have been achieved; notably, in IT research and development and innovation driven business ventures.
The youth needs to be encouraged to bring new things to existence, including technology, artworks and inventions, in order to help enhance the economic growth of the country.
Enforcement of IPR regime in the country is a must to insulate their talent and hard work from infringement and to incentivize talent to continue coming up with new creations and technology development to support economic growth of the country.
(The writer is a former President, Overseas Investors Chambers of Commerce and Industry)
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022
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