Protecting Intellectual Property in Pakistan
Traditionally, Pakistan has not had a good international reputation for protecting intellectual property. Until 2007, a lack of legislation meant that intellectual property was frequently at risk of being stolen and copied. However, in recent years an increasing number of intellectual property businesses have been created in Pakistan, mainly on the internet. Websites are not only selling products and offering financial banking services such an online balance transfer, but are also becoming a common form of trade in the creative arts, with music and film now widely sold online.
As a result, the Pakistan Government set up the Intellectual Property Organisation of Pakistan (IPO) in 2007 to provide legal coverage to protect trademarks, copyrights, patents and other intellectual property. The IPO’s main aim has been to target piracy and counterfeiting, two things that have earned Pakistan a poor reputation for intellectual property protection on the world stage. The IPO has an enforcement division (Enforcement Coordination Initiative) that pursues intellectual property infringement and encourages local law enforcement agencies to act whenever there has been a breach.
The IPO also offers registration and assistance to both businesses and individuals in protecting intellectual property:
Copyright is a form of protection that establishes authorship of a particular work. Copyright can include works of literature, music, drama (including television, theatre and film works), art (including pictures, sculptures and graphics) and architectural designs. Registration of authorship is not necessary in Pakistan, as all works are automatically copyrighted once created. However, registration of copyright makes proving authorship in a court of law much easier, and all copyrightable works can be registered by contacting the IPO.
The IPO registers both published and unpublished works. While Pakistan law allows the government to grant a license to reprint, translate, adapt or publish any copyrightable material on a non- profit basis in the public interest, such as for educational purposes, copyright means nobody else can reproduce, sell or reprint material without prior permission from the author. In cases where employees create works for an employer, the employer is deemed the author of the work.
Patents are given to businesses or individuals granting the sole right to make, use, or sell something. Patents in Pakistan are granted for 20 years, which means after that time, the intellectual property becomes freely available for others to utilise. Patents are granted to both products and processes. Unlike copyright, which can only protect a created work, patents can protect just ideas. The IPO deals with the patenting process, which can take several years to complete. There are also many stipulations to what can and cannot be patented. For example, ideas deemed beneficial to society as a whole, such as surgical operations, may not be patented.
Trademarks are the names, logos and emblems of businesses, which identify the products and service that belong to that business. In Pakistan, under the 2001 Trade Marks Ordinance act, trademarks have to be registered on the Trademarks Registry, which is a division of the IPO. Trademarks are granted for a period of ten years, but can be renewed for a further ten years after this period.
Do Check: Procedure of Trademark in Pakistan
Pakistan’s Industrial Designs Law provides protection for such things as integrated circuits or products designs. Industrial designs must also be registered with the IPO and protection also lasts for ten years, with a possible ten-year extension.
Other Intellectual Property
The IPO also provides protection for other intellectual property, such as geographical identification, which protects goods that come from a protected territory or locality. This protection prevents those from outside these areas from making the same geographical claims. Traditional knowledge and folklore from indigenous communities can also be protected under Pakistan’s intellectual property law, as can the rights of plant breeders, who cultivate and propagate new strains of plants.