KARACHI -  The draft of bill for protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) of goods and products popular among masses for their peculiar geographical origins in Pakistan has been prepared and submitted to the government.

“The draft of Geographical Indication Protection Bill has been prepared and submitted to the ministry concerned and it will be introduced in the parliament either in the current month or next,” said Chairman of Intellectual Property Organisation (IPO) of Pakistan Shahid Rashid on Wednesday.

The IPO chairman was speaking as a chief guest here at the launching ceremony of Intellectual Property Association of Pakistan (IPAP), being the first ever association in the country to raise awareness and promote education about safeguarding IPR related to different segments of Pakistani society.

Rashid said the proposed Geographical Indication Protection law-for IPR protection of popular Pakistani products such as Basmati Rice, Wazirabad cutlery or Sialkot sports goods, had been pending but finally the bill was readied by IPO after due consultation.

He said that IPO was also in the process of integrating and housing three of its main subsidiary offices-trademark office, copyrights’ office and patent office in a single building under one roof for facilitating people applying to his organization for protection of IPR of their products. He said that it had always been a challenging task for IPO to raise public awareness and also to enforce IPR in the entire country with a strength of just 190 odd officials.

He said that IPO despite shortage of officials as compared to officers available to similar organisations like Customs and FIA had organised 62 events across the country in the last one year for raising awareness about IPR among members of different trade associations and academia. The IPO head said that his organisation had been trying to clear backlog of applications as the last year witnessed 31 percent increase in applications and 25 percent increase in trademark registration.

He said that applications for patent registration had declined in the country as the assistance of World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) had been sought for reversing this trend.

For this cause, technology innovation support centres will be established in different universities with the support of WIPO for giving access to global database of patents and other useful information to budding scientists at campuses. He said the IPO had launched its Web portal service in December last as facility of online payments by the applicants (for trade mark, copyrights, and patent registration) would also be introduced soon.

Rashid said that though after considerable delay, Pakistan had finally entered into the preparatory phase for becoming part of International trademark registration system of whose 97 countries had become members. He lauded the establishment of IPAP as one such needed platform where due consultation and interaction could be made with all the concerned stakeholders who were involved in the creation of goods, products and services whose IPRs should be protected.

Farhan Hanif, chairman of IPAP, said the newly formed association would act as a facilitator and a bridge among the government, IPO, public and private sectors for developing a robust system to stop infringement of IPR related to different sectors of trade and economy.

Sheikh Rashid Alam, secretary-general of IPAP, said the association had been formed by him and like-minded people from different walks of life as earlier no platform was available for combining the efforts of different trade bodies and chambers of commerce and industry working in isolation for the protection of IPR of their member entities.

Tariq Feroz, IPAP president, said the newly formed association would provide support to producers and innovators developing IP products related to different sections of society like trade, business, industry, show business, fine arts, music, and craftsmanship.

ABAD Chairman Mohsin Sheikhani, Kanwar Muhammad Dilshad of National Democratic Foundation and Amir Rasheed, IPR Director Enforcement in Customs also spoke on the occasion. Also on the occasion, a memorandum of understanding was signed between IPAP and Greenwich University for launching a dedicated MBA programme on IPR.