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KARACHI: Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI), the collective body of over two hundred top foreign investors, has recommended 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 OICCI IPR Survey 2022, conducted annually, the chamber has expressed concern that IPR enforcement is lukewarm, and is not top of the agenda of key stakeholders including the government authorities. The IPOP, (Intellectual Property Organisation of Pakistan) the regulatory body for IPR is without a ‘chairman’ since May 2021 and there has not been any significant action taken to strengthen the IPR Tribunals, especially in Karachi.

IPR violations has caused the government significant revenue loss besides endangering the life and well being of public exposed to counterfeit products including medicine. Commenting on the survey results, OICCI president Ghias Khan emphasized that “timely registration of Copyrights, Trademarks and Patents supported by strict enforcement regime is critical for building 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.”

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

Lengthy processing timelines for granting IP rights, complicated procedure for registration and long drawn judicial procedure for the protection of IP rights are the key issues highlighted in the OICCI IPR Survey 2022. More than 50 percent of the respondents believe that Trademarks and Copyrights get registered in 1–3 years whereas 53 percent of the respondent (versus 46 percent in previous survey) reported that it takes more than 3 years to resolve an IPR dispute. While majority of the members expressed that IPR tribunals are functional in major cities, excluding Karachi, yet 32 percent 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 Custom IPR Wing at Karachi Port for closely monitoring the import of counterfeit products.

In conclusion, M Abdul Aleem, CEO and Secretary General 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 (Law Enforcement Agencies) and media has a pivotal role in promoting high level of protection of IPR in Pakistan and attracting quality research-based product and investment in the country.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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