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December 4, 2019

Pakistan lags far behind ‘desirable’ IPR benchmarks: OICCI


December 4, 2019

KARACHI: Half of foreign investors are concerned about infringement of intellectual property rights (IPR) in Pakistan, although the compliance with international standards showed an improvement somehow in the recent couple of years, a survey revealed on Tuesday.

Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (OICCI) IPR survey 2019 found that approximately half of the respondents believed that IP rights were not adequately protected in the country.

However, OICCI members perceived the IPR environment in Pakistan to be ‘better’ or ‘same’ than Bangladesh, India and Philippines. They said the environment has improved somewhat compared to the survey conducted in 2017.

Shazia Syed, president of OICCI, said Pakistan’s rating in the Special 301 Report, prepared annually by the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), improved, but the country “seems to be still far behind desirable IPR benchmarks”.

USTR report identifies trade barriers to American companies and products in foreign countries with regards to IPR. Syed underscored a need to build confidence of IP owners “that the country cares for and will help create, going forward, an enabling environment for innovation, creativity and all forms of IP so as to attract talent and FDI (foreign direct investment) in the country”.

“OICCI is confident that IPOP (Intellectual Property Organisation of Pakistan), the regulator of IP in Pakistan, will be fast tracking various initiatives to deliver on all round improvements in the IPR regime to the satisfaction of the IP owners,” she said.

The OICCI survey was based on the feedbacks of the association’s 200 members that contribute about a third of the country’s total tax collections, invested nearly $3 billion last year in new investments, and employ about one million people.

The OICCI 2019 IPR survey reflected the assessment of the foreign investors, who are members of the chamber, on the state of intellectual property protection. The survey was conducted during August –September 2019, following up on a similar survey conducted in 2017.

OICCI IPR survey showed that IPR protection continues to be of high importance for the business community of the country. They believe that there is need for better appreciation of the importance of IPR among other key stakeholders, including the government and the media.

Seventeen percent of respondents said IP violation eroded more than 20 percent of their annual revenue, according to the survey’s findings.

OICCI IPR survey emphasised the need for a concerted effort by the relevant authorities towards robust enforcement of IPR laws as the foreign investors expect significant improvement in the IPR regime to facilitate foreign direct investment in the country.

Some of the concerns shared by the survey’s respondents include lengthy timelines for granting IP rights as well as judicial proceedings. They also mentioned lack of awareness about IPR amongst some stakeholders, other than brand owners, and too few IP tribunals for timely resolution of IPR infringement cases.

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