Every year on April 26, World Intellectual Property Day has been observed around the world to learn about the role that intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks, industrial designs, copyright) play in encouraging innovation and creativity.
2018’s World Intellectual Property Day campaign celebrated the brilliance, ingenuity, curiosity and courage of the women who are driving change in our world and shaping our common future.
Intellectual property is a system that protects human creativity and makes sure it flourishes. It provides a legal framework to stop people from stealing the work and ideas of those who create and innovate. It covers a broad area of human activity, from literature, music, arts and entertainment, to technological innovations and patents that help to shape our world. Intellectual property also relates to symbols, names, images and commercial designs. Anyone who creates anything original is protected by intellectual property laws. The aim of World Intellectual Property Day is to get people to respect the work of others and make sure the originators do not lose money or experience a loss of reputation because of illegal copying. Intellectual Property Rights are set of rights associated with creations of the human mind. An output of the human mind may be attributed with intellectual property rights. These are like any other property, and the law allows the owner to use the same to economically profit from the intellectual work. Broadly IPR covers laws related to copyrights, patents and trademarks. While laws for these are different in different countries, they follow the international legal instruments.
The importance of protecting Intellectual Property was first recognized in the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property in 1883 and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works in 1886. World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) was established under Article 1 the WIPO Convention of 1967 to protect the IP rights. The Intellectual Property Rights are also outlined in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provides for the right to benefit from the protection of moral and material interests resulting from authorship of scientific, literary or artistic productions. The Convention on Biological Diversity in 1992 represents a commitment by nations to conserve biological diversity, to use biological resources sustainably, and to share the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources as Intellectual Property fairly and equitably with the local communities.
Intellectual Property Rights protect the interests of creators by giving them property rights over their creations. Many industrialized nations have intellectual property protection systems that are centuries old. Among developing countries, however, many are in the process of building up their patent, trademark and copyright legal frameworks and intellectual property systems. With the increasing globalization of trade and rapid changes in technological innovation, WIPO plays a key role in helping these systems to evolve through treaty negotiation; legal and technical assistance; and training in various forms, including in the area of enforcement.
Like industrial revolution, post-war consumption and technological revolution, we are in a state of massive changes. Yet unlike those eras, the confluence of economic, social and environmental pressure has created demands for innovation. At present, there are estimated to be seven billion people living on our resource deficient planet and if the current rate of development prevails, there will be nine billion by 2050 and some suggesting this figure may reach 10.6 billion. Our existence will solely depend on a surge of creativity and invention. In the near future the best gadgets will be defined by their futility; once more necessity will be the mother of invention.
In UK, the government has taken major steps to prioritize and support the intellectual property development as the lifeblood of their economy. Recently, all party IP groups initiated an inquiry to realize the role of government in the promotion of IP and agreed on its importance, as it plays a vital role in boosting the economy. In addition, IP education has been introduced at the university and secondary level to ensure students, recognizing the value of their own intellectual property and the business they intend to enter. To serve this purpose, the Intellectual property awareness network (IPAN) has an education group which is working hard to ensure that the next generation of university students is introduced to the IP rights. Despite the fact that the government had established an autonomous body in 2005, as Intellectual property rights organization to enforce IPR and monitor its violation, working under the administrative control of cabinet division but the control was recently handed over to commerce division.
To highlight the issue of IPR violations, IPO-Pakistan use to arrange several thrilling, action filled activities to celebrate the day, which usually include a walk, seminars and conferences.
Multinational companies, who are the main victims of the violations of IPR laws, because of the use of same logos and products by unscrupulous manufacturers, are also making an effort to highlight the issue, but they also seem to be in disagreement on how to tackle the problem.
Consumer Protection Council has offered its platform for facilitation and to create awareness against this menace, as consumers are also being cheated by these pirated products and logos.
With improved business environment, foreign investors are showing a keen interest in Pakistan as 105,109 applications have been received since 2013 for their intellectual property rights registration.
Of these, only 40,650 or 38.67pc were granted registration under the four categories of trademarks, copyrights, patent and industrial designs. Registration gives rights to the owner to initiate legal action against piracy, infringement and unfair commercial use. Once an intellectual property right (IPR) is registered at home, then it should be registered in the country of export as well. IPO-Pakistan generates revenue from the registration of IPRs. In the last few years, a surplus of over 90 million rupees was deposited to the government exchequer after spending on expenditures. The main challenge for IPO-Pakistan will remain IPR enforcement to address issues of piracy and counterfeiting in the country. Analysts say strong enforcement is also one of the conditions to attract more foreign investments in the country.
The writer is Staff Reporter & Content Writer in ‘Melange’ Magazine & ‘The Asian Telegraph’