Intellectual property tribunals... By Zaheer
08 March, 2013
Under section 16 to 19 of the recently passed Intellectual Property Organisation of Pakistan Ordinance, 2012, Pakistan is almost set to have separate intellectual property (IP) courts. These intellectual property tribunals will exercise exclusive jurisdiction in intellectual property cases. Once these tribunals become functional, cases related to patents, copyrights, trademarks, etc, will be transferred to these tribunals. Though the bill was unanimously approved by the members of the National Assembly, in my opinion, it was neither sufficiently debated nor were all practical implications taken into consideration.
It is pertinent to note that Pakistan — being a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and signatory of Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement — is not legally obliged to have separate intellectual property tribunals. Pakistan, which is a developing country facing an energy crisis, looming poverty and a struggling economy is in no position to endeavour to go beyond its legal obligations under the WTO-TRIPS Agreement 1994.
Moreover, intellectual property rights are individual rights that are mostly owned by non-nationals owing to lack of a research culture in developing countries. It is difficult to justify spending taxpayers' money on developing a parallel judicial system to protect individual rights of non-nationals. In Pakistan, the existing burden of intellectual property-related cases is minimal when compared to other civil and criminal matters. An ideal approach would be to improve the existing judicial infrastructure of Pakistan so that timely justice may be provided to all.
MUHAMMAD ZAHEER ABBAS