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US wants Pakistan to ‘do more’ for intellectual property enforcement

Dawn | 28 April 2023

US wants Pakistan to ‘do more’ for intellectual property enforcement

by Amin Ahmed

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has made significant progress in improving intellectual property (IP) legislation, but a lot still needs to be done in the area of enforcement.

This was stated in a new report by the United States Trade Representative which kept Pakistan on the ‘watch list’ for 2023 while acknowledging that the country “maintained a positive dialogue with the US on intellectual property matters and promoting IP protection and enforcement”.

USTR released its 2023 special report on intellectual property protection and enforcement on Wednesday.

The report stated that Pakistan was amending its IP laws and encouraged the government to seek stakeholders’ input on draft laws.

In February this year, the US–Pakistan Trade and Investment Framework (Tifa) Ministerial meeting deliberated improvements to Pakistan’s IP laws and the progress on joining IP treaties.

The US also welcomed Pakistan’s interest in joining international treaties, such as the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) and WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT), collectively known as the WIPO Internet Treaties and the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the report said.

Pakistan’s Intellectual Property Organisation (IPO) continued to make efforts to coordinate among various government bodies involved in IP.

Nonetheless, serious concerns remained, particularly in the area of counterfeiting and piracy was widespread in pharmaceuticals, IT, digital content and software sectors. Reports of numerous cable operators providing pirated content were also prevalent, the report noted.

Pakistan’s establishment of IP Tribunals in three cities in 2016 was a welcome development, but plans to create new tribunals in other cities have not moved forward.

Moreover, litigants with experience in these tribunals have raised concerns over the lack of capacity, inconsistency of rulings, nominal fines, a general lack of expertise among tribunal judges, and confusion over standards by which courts review tribunal decisions, according to the report.

The US expressed concern over the proliferation of counterfeit pharmaceuticals manufactured, sold and distributed by numerous trading partners.

The report said Pakistan has not provided criminal enforcement authorities with the power to take action against counterfeit goods. While optical disc piracy continues in many countries, including China, India, Mexico, and Pakistan, online piracy is the most challenging copyright enforcement issue in many foreign markets.

A 2019 report, titled ‘Impacts of Digital Video Piracy on the US Economy’, estimated that global online video piracy costs the US economy at least $29.2 billion and as much as $71 billion in lost revenue each year.

Delays in obtaining registrations present a significant obstacle to protecting IP rights in foreign markets, with stakeholders identifying Iraq, Pakistan, and South Africa as countries with extreme delays in processing trademark applications.

 source: Dawn