Intellectual property tribunals
UNDER sections 16 to 19 of the recently – passed Intellectual Property Organisation of Pakistan Ordinance, 2012, Pakistan is almost set to have separate intellectual property courts.
These intellectual property tribunals will exercise exclusive jurisdiction on intellectual property cases. Once these tribunals become functional, cases related to patents, copyrights, trademarks, etc. ,will transfer to these tribunals. Although the bill was unanimously approved by members of the National Assembly, it was, in my opinion, neither sufficiently debated, nor were all practical implications taken into consideration.
It is pertinent to note that Pakistan — being a member of the WTO and signatory to the Trade – Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement — is not legally obliged to have separate intellectual property tribunals.
Pakistan — a developing country facing energy crisis with looming poverty and struggling economy — is in no position to endeavour to go beyond its legal obligations under WTO – TRIPS Agreement 1994.
Moreover, intellectual properties rights are individual rights that are mostly owned by the non – nationals owing to lack of 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 as compared to other civil and criminal matters. An ideal approach would be to improve the existing judicial infrastructure of Pakistan so that expedient justice may be provided to all.
M. ZAHEER ABBAS