Following consultation with stakeholders, the Intellectual Property Organisation of Pakistan recently published the Draft Geographical Indication Protection Bill 2016 on its website for discussion. As there are minimal provisions relating to geographical indication protection in existing IP legislation, there is a need for comprehensive legislation to provide improved protection and public awareness of geographical indication products in Pakistan.
The Competition Commission recently launched its Competition Advocacy Academia Drive campaign, which aims to promote awareness of competition law among university students and faculty members. The commission has also issued a show cause notice against the Pharma Bureau for alleged collusive activities, launched an enquiry into alleged deceptive marketing practices and issued a policy note regarding competition rules in the telecoms sector.
The Competition Commission recently conducted an enquiry into a complaint of deceptive market practices relating to the use of similar logos by motorcycle companies. It found that none of the accused could be held responsible for the alleged deceptive marketing practices, as their conduct and use of the objectionable logos did not amount to the distribution of false or misleading information within the meaning of Section 10 of the Competition Act 2010.
The Intellectual Property Organisation recently announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federal Board of Revenue for data sharing and further cooperation. The memorandum of understanding marks a major collaboration with the Federal Board of Review's IP rights enforcement agencies and aims to address the violation of IP rights and issues of piracy and counterfeiting in Pakistan.
The Competition Commission recently initiated proceedings against the Pakistan Engineering Council following a complaint that it had restricted competition in the insurance market for public civil works. The bidding documents that the council prepared for public sector engineering projects contained provisions restricting insurance cover for public civil works to AA-rated insurers.
A recent Supreme Court case found that adding a prefix to an existing trademark or the dominant feature of an existing trademark is not enough to prevent a trademark registration being refused. The court noted a growing tendency to misappropriate trademark rights by seeking protection under copyright law. The decision highlights the proactive approach that the Pakistan judiciary has adopted towards protecting IP rights in trademarks.
The Competition Act 2010 does not cover the concept of parasitic copying or copycat packaging. However, in its recent order against Dawn Foods, the commission broadened the scope of deceptive marketing practices by recognising unfair competition through the practice of parasitic copying and copycat packaging for the first time in Pakistan.
The federal government recently established IP tribunals in Punjab, Sindh and Islamabad Capital Territory to adjudicate on IP disputes under presiding officers selected from high court, district and session court judges or attorneys who qualify for appointment through their expert knowledge of IP law. The act also provides that in cases of a technical nature, tribunals may be assisted by IP rights experts.
The Competition Commission has established a road show, including seminars in 20 major cities, to help stakeholders to understand the importance of the Competition Act 2010. The commission aims to help companies improve their business practices, which in turn will create fairness for all businesses to compete, innovate and become profitable, and thus help to improve the economy.
The integration of the Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad stock exchanges was recently approved during a hearing of the Phase 2 review of the pre-merger application following the order that the commission had passed in the Phase 1 review. During the hearing, all parties responded at length to the concerns raised in the order and to additional queries posed by the bench. A detailed order providing the commission's reasoning will follow in due course.
The Competition Commission recently examined a statutory regulatory order issued by the federal government imposing a 15% regulatory duty on imported steel billets. The commission concluded that this regulatory duty on the import of steel billets affected the cascading nature of the tariff structure and recommended a reduction to create a level playing field in the market for steel products.
The Competition Commission recently examined increases in air fares by certain private airlines, which appear to have taken advantage of the ongoing dispute between Pakistan International Airlines and the Airline Pilots Association. The commission will investigate whether the private airlines have abused their dominant position or engaged in anti-competitive practices by taking advantage of the crisis at Pakistan International Airlines.
The Competition Commission recently announced details of a meeting regarding recommendations on the price control mechanism for essential food commodities. The commission will now finalise its recommendations based on the suggestions received from stakeholders and present them at the next meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee.
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 Competition Commission recently concluded its investigation into allegations that the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) had restricted insurance coverage of public civil works to AA-rated insurers. The commission determined that the restriction had reduced and distorted competition in the relevant market and recommended that proceedings be initiated against the PEC.
The Competition Commission recently issued show cause notices to eight medical institutions for alleged violation of the Competition Act 2010, which prohibits business undertakings from engaging in deceptive marketing practices. The institutions had misrepresented their Medical and Dental Council recognition on their websites or failed to communicate the restrictions imposed on admissions.
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 Competition Commission recently signed a memorandum of understanding for the sharing of information with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan. Further, the commission issued a policy note that recommended amendments to the Insurance Ordinance 2000 to open up the insurance of public property to the private sector.
The latest in a series of enforcement and advocacy efforts by the Competition Commission is an opinion providing recommendations concerning anti-competitive practices by public sector procuring agencies in relation to tenders for procurement of electrical equipment. The commission's opinion serves as a guideline for procuring agencies when designing tender documents.
The High Court of Sindh has issued a significant decision addressing company trademark applications that are filed in all classes of the Nice International Classification of Goods and Services. The case confirms that the classes of goods and services for which registration is sought must relate to the objects clause of the applicant's memorandum of association.