International Intellectual Property Laws and Pakistan


Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are crucial as they safeguard authentic business assets that are essential to the fundamental services of the business and its long-term sustainability. The purpose of it is to allow individuals to receive recognition or financial gain for their inventions or creations. Intellectual property rights (IPR) have a significant impact on both international trade and the domestic trade of every nation in the modern world. Digitalization has made it easier for third parties to steal creative ideas without obtaining prior permission. Regarding Pakistan, there is a significant amount of work that needs to be done. In this article, we will explore the various aspects of international intellectual property rights laws in relation to Pakistan.

International Intellectual Property Laws and Pakistan

Defining Intellectual Property Rights

The term "intellectual property rights" (IPRs) refers to the legal rights that arise as a consequence of intellectual effort in a variety of sectors, including the arts, sciences, and literature. The most well-known IPR examples are copyrights, patents, and trademarks. Copyright protects literary or artistic works, while patents protect commercially utilized names or symbols. Other types of IPRs are less well known, such as utility models, industrial design rights, plant breeders' rights, geographical indicators, software and database rights, and so on.

The Importance of Intellectual Property Rights

There are various reasons why intellectual property rights are protected. Trademark protection promotes transparency by allowing consumers to easily identify the producer or licensor of a specific product. Patent protection serves as a catalyst for research and innovation by safeguarding investments and maintaining confidentiality of inventions. Copyright protection fosters creativity by enabling the commercialization of creative works without the concern of plagiarism. In addition to the aforementioned reasons for IPRs, they are also regarded as a means of demonstrating that creators possess a moral entitlement to their creations.

Historical Development of International Intellectual Property Law

With the 1886 Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the 1883 Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, international harmonization of intellectual property law began in the late 19th century. The United International Bureaux for the Protection of Intellectual Property (BIRPI) was created in 1893 to administer two treaties. WIPO was founded in 1967 and became a UN agency in 1974. TRIPS set a minimum standard for IPRs in WTO member states. Commercial trademark and copyright infringements must be criminalized under the minimum standard. The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is the first global IP treaty to use criminal law to emphasize public interest. TRIPS is a trade agreement and a prohibition regime. IP negotiations continued after TRIPS. Examples of agreements include the 2001 Doha Declaration, bilateral and regional agreements, and the rejected Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). International IP debate covers penalties for IP crimes and the balance between private IP rights and public interest, particularly regarding patents on pharmaceuticals and life forms. Concerns have been raised about the fair use of digital items, internet industry responsibility for digital product exchange, and the trade of tangible objects on internet platforms such as Transhipment concerns develop as a result of varying IPR protection in the nations of origin, destination, and transhipment. Despite continuous disputes, inadequate legal enforcement is impeding IPR protection. IP crime is not a priority for law enforcement agencies worldwide. Due to limited resources for specific training and units, law enforcement organizations focus serious crimes such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, and terrorism.

Trademark Protection Research and Legal System Efficiency in Pakistan

In developing countries, a set of reasonable trademark-related empirical studies have been conducted, which transparently show the significance of their activities to the rest of the world. Much research has been done on intellectual property protection, but little emphasis has been given to trademark protection research. Pakistan's ranking changed from 108th place in 2011 to 111th place in 2021, with a yearly change of 0.069 and a 4.211 score. At this point, neither its position nor score showed any discernible improvement. Pakistan's top three rankings were from 2011, 2014, and 2015. The findings suggest that a well-defined legal system should be organized for the right protection of trademarks, and the implementation of rules related to trademark protection is crucial for bringing about a change in the attitude of the whole society. The selling of counterfeit goods from producers to buyers should also be discouraged to strengthen the mechanism of the trademark protection system. It suggests that the court system in Pakistan is inefficient and subject to delays. Corruption may be present, and decisions made by the government can often affect the courts.

Challenges in Pakistan’s Intellectual Property Crime Legislation

Pakistan does not have the required legal framework to tackle the issue of the IPC. Pakistan’s national laws have been aligned with the TRIPS agreement in terms of policies, but there are still some ambiguous areas. Pakistan’s national laws have not fully incorporated Article 10 of the TRIPS Agreement in its intended form and meaning. The statement indicates that there are two categories of subject matter that require protection. The first category includes source code or object code, while the second category pertains to databases. According to the Berne Convention of 1971, in economies that rely on knowledge, both of these types must be safeguarded by TRIPS. According to the TRIPS Agreement, computer programmes are protected under the Berne Convention, whether in the form of source or object code. This statement suggests that if Pakistani laws eventually acknowledge the violation of software or databases as a crime, then the safeguarding of those rights would be restricted in a similar manner as literary works are limited according to the TRIPS Agreement. Evidence-based policymaking is a proven approach that enhances decision-making by relying on rigorous and accurate scientific data. Parliamentarians and lawmakers have made insufficient efforts to align with TRIPS and other international laws that protect intellectual property rights. The policymakers’ disregard for evidence-based information on Pakistani culture and society has resulted in a lack of ecological validity in the legal framework.

According to a research paper titled, The Development of Intellectual Property Laws in Pakistan: Challenges and Suggestions, profoundly serious challenges exist in the context of intellectual property law in Pakistan. The paper states: 

The legal system of Pakistan is marred with a lack of awareness, lax and non-deterrent punishments, a lack of teaching and research facilities, and a lack of capacity building and officers that create hurdles in the implementation and enforcement of intellectual property laws in Pakistan in order to grow economically.


The Impact of Bias in Pakistan’s Legal System

Leir and Parkhurst define bias as the phenomenon where the utilization of evidence leads political debates to focus on specific questions or concerns in a manner that lacks transparency. Regrettably, Pakistan’s legal system and policies are rife with these two forms of bias, resulting in the aforementioned issues we have previously discussed.

Pakistan’s Advancement in International Trademark Protection

However, things are looking up. On June 24th, 2021, Pakistan joined the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks (Madrid Protocol). Consequently, trademark protection in over 100 countries is now assured by registering a single international application in one language with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The Swiss global registration system, situated in Geneva, provides this protection. To clarify, if trademark infringement occurs in any of the 100 or more countries, it could result in fines and lawsuits from the international community, thereby classifying it as a transnational crime.

International Intellectual Property Laws and Pakistan


In fine, it can be stated that Intellectual property rights (IPRs) result from intellectual endeavour in arts, sciences, and literature. Copyrights, patents, and trademarks are a few examples. IPRs promote transparency, innovation, creativity, and moral entitlement of creators. furthermore, Pakistan's policy-making lacks evidence and is biased, which hinders public engagement. However, things are changing as the country recently joined the Madrid Agreement in for trademark protection in many countries.

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