The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) provides the best option for obtaining an international patent. Pakistan plans to accede to the Madrid Protocol in 2019 and become a contracting member of the PCT in 2020. In this regard, the Intellectual Property Organisation of Pakistan is in the process of updating its IP laws, including the Patent Ordinance 2000, to incorporate the relevant PCT provisions.
The Competition Commission recently found that an enquiry into deceptive marketing practices did not comply with Section 37(2) of the Competition Act, which allows the commission to conduct enquiries only after receiving written complaints from an undertaking or registered association of consumers. As a result, proceedings could not be initiated against the company under investigation.
In a recent case, the appellant challenged the Additional District Court's decision to dismiss a permanent injunction issued against the respondent for its adoption of a mark that was confusingly similar to that of the appellant. The decision reflects that unregistered trademark rights can be protected through a passing-off claim where it can be established that the trademark has gained distinctiveness as a result of its continuous use over time.
The Competition Commission recently initiated proceedings against nine animal and livestock feed manufacturers for engaging in deceptive marketing practices under the Competition Act 2010. The commission imposed a penalty of PRs2.7 million on the respondents and ordered them to cease their unauthorised use of the complainant's registered trademark and copycat packaging and file individual compliance reports.
An appellant filed an appeal in the High Court challenging a district judge's decision dismissing an application for the grant of a temporary injunction against the respondent's use of a trademark. The appellant had registered a similar mark subject to a disclaimer regarding exclusivity. However, the court found that such a disclaimer limits the extent of the exclusive rights that a registration may provide a rights holder and dismissed the appeal.
The Competition Commission recently initiated an enquiry into six fruit juice manufacturers for misleading consumers and engaging in deceptive marketing practices under the Competition Act. The enquiry committee concluded that the respondents' marketing of their fruit juice brands to consumers using unjustified claims amounted to the distribution of false and misleading information to the general public, which could harm the business interests of other undertakings in the same industry.
IP enforcement agencies recently held a meeting at the Intellectual Property Organisation to discuss how to improve Pakistan's international IP image. At the meeting, certain proactive approaches were adopted, including improving coordination between different government organisations and providing timely IP reports to Pakistan's missions abroad. These measures will allow Pakistan to keep up to date with progress in the protection of IP rights and provide a basis for comparison with other international standards.
The Competition Commission recently conducted an enquiry and initiated proceedings against Proctor & Gamble Pakistan (Private) Limited following a complaint for deceptive marketing practices filed by Reckitt Benckiser Pakistan Limited. The commission found that the respondent had violated Section 10 of the Competition Act 2010 and imposed a penalty of PRs10 million.
When deciding an appeal regarding infringement and passing off of the appellant's mark, the Sindh High Court applied the standard 'moron in a hurry', Lapp and classic trinity tests to determine the get-up and similarity of the marks in question. The high court decided in favour of the appellant and overruled the lower court's decision by disallowing registration of the defendant's competing mark.
Following a complaint filed by an individual against Kaymu (an online shopping platform) for deceptive marketing practices, the Competition Commission conducted an enquiry and found that Kaymu had been involved in the dissemination of false and misleading information to consumers. These actions had resulted in Kaymu having a competitive advantage over other undertakings in the same line of business, leading to a prima facie violation of the Competition Act.
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.
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.