KARACHI: As many as 37 per cent foreign investors polled by the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) have reported that it takes them one to three years to resolve a standard intellectual property rights (IPR) dispute.

Findings of OICCI’s IPR Survey, conducted in late 2021, indicated that it takes more than five years for 22pc foreign investors to resolve a typical IPR dispute.

Respondents also expressed concerns about the penalty on an IPR violation being “insignificant” and not sufficient to act as a deterrent. Moreover, the IP Tribunals were not fully functional in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, they said.

The survey reflects the assessment of foreign investors on the state of intellectual property protection in Pakistan, a statement by OICCI said on Tuesday. Effective protection of IPR comprising copyrights, patents and trademark is critical for attracting and retaining foreign direct investment (FDI), it added.

Foreign investors participating in the survey showed higher satisfaction — from 17pc in 2020 to 37pc in 2021 — with respect to the Intellectual Property Organisation of Pakistan (IPOP), which is the IPR regulator in the country.

OICCI members asked IPOP to strengthen the IPR regime by automating and fast-tracking the process of registering IP, promoting awareness about the importance of IPR and its impact on business besides improving the skills of law enforcement agencies to proactively stop the IPR abuse.

Currently, all OICCI members rely on their own resources to monitor the threat of IPR violations. “However, there is a great desire for all IP owners to work in partnership with government authorities for a better IPR regime. A lack of awareness and appreciation about IPR, lengthy timelines for granting IP rights, long-drawn judicial proceedings, inadequately trained LEA staff and low penalties prescribed under IPR laws for violations are some of the key concerns highlighted in the survey,” it said.

According to OICCI President Irfan Siddiqui, foreign investors’ concerns about the effectiveness of the IPR regime are supported by the loss of revenue which, as a percentage of an organisation’s three-year turnover, ranges from 1pc to 30pc.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2022

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