Advertising can be legitimately used to persuade consumers to choose a particular brand, but it is sometimes used to mislead them into using products or services on the basis of false or deceptive claims. Protection is provided by, among other things, the Trademarks Ordinance and the Competition Act, and the Competition Commission is empowered to address, prohibit and penalise misleading representations.
Aldo Group International AG filed a suit for trademark infringement and passing off against Aldo Shoes to restrain it from using the name and trademark ALDO in Pakistan in relation to its shoe business. While the single bench of the High Court of Sindh refused to grant injunctive relief to Aldo Group International AG, the court's appellate bench recently allowed its appeal against Aldo Shoes.
The High Court of Sindh recently allowed an appeal filed by Novartis AG against Nabiqasim Industries (Private) Limited and restrained the latter from using the trademark DESCOL on account of its similarity with Novartis's prior registered trademark LESCOL. The court's appellate bench asserted that in the case of pharmaceutical products, the public must be protected from the possibility of confusion at all times.
A new chapter regarding IP rights enforcement has been added to the Customs Rules 2001. The new chapter provides a mechanism by which rights holders with valid grounds for suspicion that infringing goods are being imported into Pakistan can make an application (in the prescribed format) to the Directorate General of IP Rights when the goods arrive at the notified customs station.
The Sindh High Court recently refused to grant interim injunctive relief to Aldo and allowed a local company to sell shoes under the brand The Aldo Shoes. In its decision, the court gave due weight to the fact that Aldo has no stores in Pakistan and that the defendant's shoes are sold only through its own store; therefore, the goods concerned reach the market through different trade channels.
The Directorate General of Intellectual Property Rights (Pakistan Customs) was recently established. This body will primarily focus on the enforcement of Pakistan's IP laws – in particular, the import or export of counterfeit products. It will also be the Federal Board of Revenue's centralised contact office for national and international organisations working for the promotion of IP rights.
The Trademarks Ordinance recognises words, letters, devices, figurative elements, colours, sounds and combinations thereof as trademarks as long as they can distinguish the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings. This is a broad definition of what may constitute a trademark and is arguably wide enough to include three-dimensional shape marks, such as package designs.