Karachi: On the eve of World Intellectual Property Day, celebrated globally on April 23, Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) urged government to show demonstrable support for protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), a key indicator of business climate closely monitored by existing and potential foreign investors.
Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan Act 2012 (IPOP), approved on 6th December 2012 and supported by key stakeholders, including OICCI, has not been implemented to date. In fact, the government has still not nominated the IPOP chairman, formed the IPOP policy board or established intellectual property rights tribunals to adjudicate IPR violations, which are essential features of the IPOP,” opines President, OICCI Asad S. Jafar.
According to OICCI, IPR violations are widespread, resulting in significant financial and social loss to the government and people of Pakistan. Estimates of sales losses incurred due to IPR infringements by affected companies stand at around Rs 700 billion with the national exchequer losing roughly Rs 190 billion in lost taxes annually, negatively impacting tax-to-GDP ratio by nearly 1 percent.
“The protection of IPR, comprising trademarks, copyrights and patents, is critical for attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Pakistan besides encouraging innovation in society and containing rapid brain drain,” adds Saad Amanullah Khan, who chairs OICCI’s IPR subcommittee.
Leading pharmaceutical and healthcare multinationals, for instance, spend between 15 to 20 percent of their revenue on research and development to introduce new products. Such companies may not be willing to introduce proprietary products in markets that lack adequate IPR protection.
OICCI is also concerned that Pakistan has been on the US IPR Watch List 308 for many years which may deter potential foreign investors.
As a body representing the collective voice of 196 major foreign investors in Pakistan and in the interest of attracting inflow of large FDI in the country, OICCI has regularly interacted with government, suggesting various measures to improve awareness and protection of IPR in the country.
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