The Competition Commission recently initiated proceedings against 18 electric cable manufacturers which had engaged in deceptive marketing practices under the Competition Act by failing to disclose to consumers that there were cash/cash coupons in the packaging of electric wire cable bundles. The commission's enquiry concluded that on account of this omission, purchasers of the product had been unaware of the coupons and this benefit had instead transferred to various electricians.
In order to integrate and upgrade Pakistan's IP infrastructure and improve its services, public awareness and IP enforcement, the Intellectual Property Office recently proposed draft amendments to the Patents Ordinance. The proposed amendments, which aim to align the ordinance with the Intellectual Property Organisation of Pakistan Act, standardise office practices and streamline procedures, have been published on the office's website for public comment but have yet to be finalised.
The Competition Commission recently examined whether Wateen Telecom Limited had resorted to a tie-in arrangement for analogue TV services provided to a housing scheme in Lahore, restricting consumer choice and abusing its dominant position in violation of the Competition Act. The commission found that the original enquiry report had erroneously defined the relevant market. Due to a lack of sufficient data and evidence, the show cause notice issued to Wateen was set aside.
The Sindh High Court recently overturned a registrar of trademarks' decision following an appeal by Moonlite Trading and rejected MF Enterprises' application to register its infringing FASTER BLACK COBRA mark. The decision applied the concept of totality of impression and the average consumer test to ascertain whether the registration of the FASTER BLACK COBRA mark would infringe Moonlite Trading's COBRA mark.
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.
The Competition Commission recently conducted an inquiry into alleged discriminatory practices that the Defence Officers Housing Authority Islamabad-Rawalpindi (DHA) had undertaken against Nayatel (Private) Limited in respect of the provision of cable internet and telephony services. The inquiry committee found that the DHA held a dominant position in the relevant market and had abused this position by effectively and constrictively refusing to deal with Nayatel.
The Competition Commission recently conducted an enquiry following a complaint filed by Pakistan Services Limited against a number of other hotel operators for fraudulently using the complainant's registered trademark for the branding of their hotels. The commission found that the respondents had resorted to deceptive marketing practices by adopting marks that were identical or deceptively similar to the complainant's registered marks.
Pursuant to a complaint filed by Ferozsons Laboratories Limited, the Competition Commission recently started an enquiry into Neucon Pakistan for deceptive marketing practices under the Competition Act. The respondent's behaviour was judged to have been capable of deceiving consumers, which could in turn damage the complainant's business interests. In the interest of the general public, it was recommended that proceedings be initiated against Neucon for deceptive marketing practices.
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.
The ever-expanding digital market has recently established a solid footing in Pakistan, which has seen a growth in digital businesses. At present, the competition authorities take no specific steps to prevent online retailers and service providers from free riding on the investment of bricks-and-mortar retailers and service providers. However, the Competition Commission has undertaken to create awareness of anti-competitive behaviour and deceptive marking practices.