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The International Customs Day is celebrated every year on January 26th, Being a signatory of WCO, Pakistan Customs along with its field formations, is also celebrating international Customs Day on 26th January 2022. The slogan of the day is “Customs digital transformation by enhancing a data culture and building a data ecosystem”. The theme highlights our efforts of automation and digitalization of its system so as to ensure smooth and timely clearances of all import and export consignments. Its ISO Certified WeBOC system has integrated all the local stakeholders for seamless and speedy clearance of the consignment and smooth flow of trade across borders. The pilot project of its new and improved Pakistan Single Window Project has taken a major step in digital transformation and is in the process of integration with not only the local but all the regional stake holders including banks, transporter courier services, bonded carriers etc.

As far as Directorate of IPRE is concerned, we have automated Custom recordals of National and International Brands. Under TRIPPS AGREEMENT we are bound to protect the rights of all National and Internationally registered brands. This is made possible only through the digitalized system. As per complaints / Enforcement applications received under SRO170(I)/2017 against counterfeit consignments or infringed items; consignments are detained in the system and alerts generated all over Pakistan. Our work is based on risk analysis and has been made possible by enhancing a data culture and building a data ecosystem.

The Directorate General of Intellectual Property Rights, upon its inception in 2014, was tasked among other things, with developing computer based risk assessment system and targeting tools compiling data with IPR violation and build a database with all the right holders of national and international brands. Keeping this in mind, the Directorate General of IPRE, and the regional Directorates, under the able to leadership of Director General, Madam Rubab Sikander, undertook steps towards digitalization and building a sustainable data ecosystem. They have been successful in maintaining an anti-counterfeiting department that operates as a single-stop for International and National Right-holders to seek remedies against the Infringement of their intellectual property rights in Import and Exports, thereby safeguarding the legitimate government Revenue, promoting importers of genuine goods, ensuring the health and safety of the consumers, as well as improving Pakistan Custom’s image in the International Community.

Today, the Directorate of IPRE South has a robust targeting mechanism in which after receipt of an enforcement application, or a case referred from any Clearance Collectorate, the credentials of the right holders are verified through the Recordation Data Base on Intellectual Property Organization (IPO), Pakistan. Once the available database verifies the claim of a right holder, the consignment of alleged infringing goods are detained and dealt with according to law.

In this regard, the Directorate of IPRE(S), Karachi has maintained a local data base of all the consignments intercepted, the seizures and forfeitures made thereafter and litigations pending against these seizures. Besides, the Directorate of IPRE(S), has also taken a lead role in maintain a recordation database of various products, trademarks, copyrights etc of different right holders, having frequent imports, so that swift action can be taken in case of IPR violation. Multiple cases carrying miscellaneous counterfeit goods worth a market value of more than Rs.700 million, have been detected by Directorate of IPR Enforcement, and a record number of forfeitures made, which will be destroyed during the upcoming International Customs Day. The first and foremost priority being consumer health and safety, most of these seizures are of counterfeit consumer items including empty bottle/tube/aerosol cans to be used for sale of counterfeit cosmetics, perfumes, tooth-paste, toiletries, insecticides and all products meant for infants. Historic cases of counterfeit Swiss and Japanese watches, containers full of counterfeit mobile batteries, and adhesive stickers of International brands to fool the common man into buying very cheap quality mobile and computer accessories, chargers, hand free, wifi-routers, power banks etc mistaking them as branded products of Apple, Huawei, Xiomi and Samsung, Tons of counterfeit packing material of all renowned brands like, Adidas, Channel, YSL, LV, Dior etc as well as their products.

The next concern is the Automobile parts, where bringing fake/infringed copies again means playing with lives of Passengers and driver; such as the counterfeit Auto Air bag cover, which have caused hundreds of fatal car accidents in Pakistan.

Most interesting was the Directorate’s successful attempts in foiling/un-earthing black-mailers who ruin the business of genuine exporters and ruin Pakistan’s image abroad. The rice Association, were full of appreciation for Directorate of IPRE South.

In a short time, Directorate General of IPRE and Directorate of IPRE South has earned the respect of numerous International brands and IPRE received letter of appreciation from several, including GSK, Proctor and Gamble, Unilever, Zong, LG, Toyota, Samsung, M/s B.P.S and M/s OSIRIS and received Appreciation letters and Shield from them.

Multiple training and awareness seminars were held. In addition to Awareness Seminars arranged for MCC Appraisement Quetta, Directorate of Intelligence and Investigation Quetta and Directorates in Karachi, presentations, awareness seminars and visit to the counterfeit gallery were arranged for various batches of probationers during their STP; as well as specific ones for the chamber of commerce from all over Pakistan via zoom and FPCCI, Special sessions for FPCCI Karachi, and their women entrepreneurs; and even with CEOs of all Multi-National.

Brands through overseas Chamber of Commerce Karachi. During the current year the young Probationary officers of 47th and 48th CTP were trained by the Directorate in enforcement of IPR laws. In a similar collaboration between the Overseas Chamber of Commerce and Directorate of IPRE South in February 2021, another awareness seminar was conducted for controlling the trade of counterfeit Pharmaceutical products which was attended by the representatives of companies like Novartis, Abbott, Pfizer, Bayer Wyeth Pakistan. An IPR awareness seminar was conducted for the member of FPCCI which was virtually joined by the member of all the Chambers of Commerce across country. As well as eight months long Zoom Awareness Seminar of 85 Customs Officers of Grade 17 and above pharmaceutical industry of Pakistan FDA USPTO etc.

External outreach interactive sessions were arranged, over the year in collaboration, with at least 150 International brands like Siemens, Samsung, Uniliver, P&G, Toyota, etc. Custom Recordals of 200 plus brands maintained and the number is increasing on daily basis.

The Directorate General of IPRE South is striving to bring maximum digitalization and automation in its systems. During this era of Covid, hitting the economy of the entire world. IPR is connected with the rest of the world through zoom meetings and seminars and is trying to make Pakistan a forerunner in abiding by the Intellectual Property obligations and making it a favorite trading hub for International brands. The Directorate is ensuring that the staff of Pakistan Customs and all other stake holders are well aware of their responsibilities regarding IPR along with ensuring the health and safety of the citizens by discouraging the trade of counterfeit products.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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