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The Changing Landscape of Intellectual Property Laws in Pakistan

The Changing Landscape of Intellectual Property Laws in Pakistan

Recently, intellectual property laws in Pakistan are garnering significant attention. During the visit a of a delegation from the United States in November 2023 to the Intellectual Property Organization headquarters, Pakistan reaffirmed their commitment to improving and updating the intellectual property policies, laws and regulations.

The Pakistani Parliament has been working on passing new legislation for intellectual property laws. On January 16, 2023, the Copy Right (Amendment) Bill, 2023 was introduced and is currently pending with the standing committee on commerce. Key features of the bill include a provision for royalties that stem from licensing. The proposed amendment in the copyright laws aims at empowering the Copy Right Board to fix the royalties for licensing and assignment of work. This bill further proposes amendment in the composition of the Copy Right Board by prescribing adequate representation to the persons from the media and entertainment industry amongst its members.

Additionally, the Trade Mark (Amendment) Act, 2023 was recently enacted in August 2023. The amendment to the trademark laws includes a chapter on international registration of trademarks under the Madrid Protocol, which Pakistan acceded to on February 24, 2021 and ratified on May 24, 2021. The act broadens the administrative powers of the Intellectual Property Organization and empowers it to appoint the Registrar of Trade Marks. The act shall also make the intellectual property tribunal fully functional and replace all mention of the “District Court” with the “Intellectual Property Tribunal” in the Trademarks Ordinance, 2001.

After the enactment of the Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan Act, 2012 (“IPO Act”), specialized intellectual property tribunals were established in each province to adjudicate upon disputes. Since then, the superior courts of Pakistan have slowly enlarged the jurisdiction of the intellectual property tribunals and recent decisions have held that now all intellectual property matters are to be heard and decided by the tribunals. Recently, the Islamabad High Court in Shaheen Chemist v. Zahid Mehmood Chaudhry [2023 CLD 1] held that Section 18 of the IPO Act provides that all claims in relation to intellectual property laws fall within the exclusive domain of the tribunals.

In Pakistan, while jurisprudence around trademark laws has developed significantly over the past decades, the jurisprudence around copyright laws and their enforcement is limited. Recently, the High Court of Sindh in Dollar Industries (Pvt.) Limited v. Kamran Akhlaq [2023 CLD 670] decreed a suit for copyright infringement, holding that the Defendant infringed copyrighted work of the Plaintiffs as he took his entire work from the Plaintiffs’ platform and offered it for sale (or downloads) to third parties, not only infringing copyright but at the same time inducing dilution of the Plaintiffs’ trademark rights in the said character. The High Court of Sindh reaffirmed the provisions of the Copyright Ordinance, 1962 (“1962 Ordinance”), holding that it is established law that where a copyright in any way has been infringed, its owner is entitled to all such remedies by way of injunction, damages and accounts, as well as punitive criminal remedies.

Sameer Tayebaly, Senior Associate
June 06, 2024