Hafiz Aziz ur Rehman

Pakistan is almost set to establish specialized Intellectual Property Tribunals which would exercise exclusive jurisdiction on intellectual property cases (patents, copyright, trademark, designs, Integrated Circuits and selected sections of Pakistan Penal Code dealing with trademark and counterfeiting). It means that when these tribunals would become functional, all cases related to relevant sections of the Pakistan Penal Code will eventually transfer to the tribunals. The proposal to establish dedicated Intellectual Property Tribunals came as a surprising move when National Assembly passed the Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan Ordinance, 2012. It is important to note that under the WTO-TRIPS Agreement 1994, Pakistan has no obligation to establish specialized IP courts and several developing countries (including India) do not have dedicated intellectual property courts. The existing burden of IP cases is minimal as compared to other civil and criminal matters and there is hardly any justification to create IP courts in a country which is economically struggling amidst serious energy crisis and looming poverty.

The officials in Pakistan’s Intellectual Property Organization (IPO: http://ipo.gov.pk/) defend their decision of establishing new courts and argue that it would help Pakistan improving its status in USTR Special 301 Report. The copy of the Bill is attached and it is still pending before Senate’s Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat. The Committee will consider this starting next week.