Intellectual property rights in Pakistan | Its registration & protection

Intellectual Property Rights in Pakistan

There are various legal mechanism to protect the intellectual property rights in Pakistan. These protections include copyrights, patents, trademarks, and industrial designs etc. The regulatory body here is intellectual property organization of Pakistan (IPO-Pakistan) that is responsible for the administration and enforcement of laws relating to the IPRs in the country. Pakistan is also a signatory to several international agreements and conventions related to intellectual property, including the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Aims of these agreements are to provide protection and administration to the work of inventors and creators so that they be rewarded for their creations in true sense.

What is intellectual property:

Intellectual property (IP) includes products of human intellect like inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, and symbols used in commerce. Laws protect IP through patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets, allowing creators to gain recognition or financial rewards for their innovations and creations.

Intellectual property rights organization of Pakistan:

Intellectual property organization (IPO) of Pakistan was established on April 8, 2005, as an autonomous body under the Cabinet Division to manage intellectual property rights efficiently in Pakistan. In 2016, its control was transferred to the Commerce Division. It now oversees the Trade Marks Registry, Copyright Office, and the Patent & Design Office, aiming to streamline IP management. IPO-Pakistan’s functions include coordinating government efforts for IP protection, managing all IP offices, raising awareness about IP rights, advising the federal government on IP policy, and ensuring effective enforcement of IP rights through designated agencies like the police, FIA, and Pakistan Customs. Following are the main six categories of the intellectual property rights that are recognized in Pakistan.

  1. Trademarks 
  2. Copyrights 
  3. Patents
  4. Layout Design of IC
  5. Industrial Designs
  6. Geographical indications 

1. Trade Marks

Among other intellectual property rights in Pakistan, one significant category is “Trade Mark”. The Trademarks Registry in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, part of the Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan (IPO-Pakistan), are responsible for registering trademarks and service marks under the Trademarks Ordinance, 2001. It operates as a federal government body with jurisdiction across Pakistan, functioning like a civil court with appeal rights to provincial high courts. The Registry, headed by a Registrar, has its main office in Karachi, a Regional Office in Lahore and IPO-HQs, Islamabad.

The Registry’s functions include not only registering trademarks but also raising awareness about Intellectual Property Rights. It encourages entrepreneurs to protect their trademarks and services marks, maintaining help lines in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad. 

Registration process of Trade Marks as intellectual property rights in Pakistan:

The registration process of Trade Marks includes following steps:

  • A written application shall be made to the registrar.
  • Registrar shall conduct a search based examination of the application to check that whether it meets the necessary requirements as prescribed by the ordinance.
  • If it appears to the Registrar that all necessary requirements are met, he shall accept the application absolutely or subject to such conditions or limitations, if any, as he may think fit.
  • On acceptance of application, the registrar shall cause the application accepted to be advertised in the
  • Journal, and for all legal purposes, advertisement of the trade mark in the Journal shall constitute sufficient notice of acceptance of the trade mark.
  • Any person may give notice of opposition to the registrar within two months.
  • On the registration of a trade mark the Registrar shall publish the same in the prescribed manner and issue to the applicant a certificate in the prescribed form of registration, sealed with the seal of the Trade Marks Registry.

Sections for Process of Trade Mark:

The process involves several key sections:

  • The Reception Desk receives applications and issues application numbers.
  • The Data Capture Section digitalizes application information and issues acknowledgment receipts.
  • The Examination Section, divided into sub-sections, examines applications for compliance with the Trademarks Ordinance, 2001.
  • The Journal Section publishes the Trademarks Journal to inform the public and invite opposition to applications.
  • The Opposition Section handles oppositions filed against published trademarks, deciding outcomes after hearing both parties.
  • The Registration Section recommends marks for registration after publication and issues certificates upon fee payment.
  • The Post Registration Section manages changes and amendments after registration.
  • The Renewal Section deals with renewing trademarks for another 10-year period upon receipt of the prescribed fee.
  • The Record Section maintains physical files and handles file movements between sections.
  • The Legal Section handles legal matters, including appeals.
  • The Administration/HR/Accounts Section manages internal affairs, human resources, infrastructure, and accounts.
  • The IT Section manages automation, IT support, and maintenance of the IT infrastructure.

Term of registration of Trade Mark:

Trade mark shall be registered for a period of ten years from the date of registration.

2. Copyrights

Copyright is one of the most important intellectual property rights in Pakistan. It is a legal certification that provides ownership right and control to the creator of literary, artistic, cinematographic and record works. It includes books, photos, paintings, logos, monograms, dramas/movies, computer softwares And programs, composed data, musical works and sound recordings etc.

The Copyright Office, established in Karachi in 1963, oversees copyright registration, which is voluntary but recommended for proving ownership in legal disputes. The process involves filing an application, examination, publication (for artistic works), opposition (if any), and issuance of a registration certificate.

 The Copyright Office has made significant advancements in recent years, including the installation of wireless LAN, availability of application forms online, and digitization of copyright files and data. Through these efforts, IPO-Pakistan aims to streamline copyright certification and improve access to copyright-related services.

Procedure for registration of Copyright

  • The author or publisher of, or the owner of or other person interested in the copyright in, any work may make an application in the prescribed form accompanied by the prescribed fee to the Registrar for entering particulars of the work in the Register of Copyrights which is kept at copyrights office.
  • On receipt of an application, the Registrar shall enter the particulars of the work in the Register of Copyrights and issue a certificate of such registration to the applicant.

Term of Copyrights

In any literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work (other than a photograph) which is published within the life time of the author Copyright term shall be counted as fifty years the from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in which the author dies.

In the case of a cinematographic work, copyright shall subsist until fifty years from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in which the work is published.

In the case of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work (other than a Photograph), which is published anonymously or pseudonymously copyright shall subsist until fifty years from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in which the work is first published.

If a work, whose author’s identity is known, is not publish posthumously within fifty years after the death of the author, such work shall fall into the public domain after fifty years from the beginning of the calendar years next following the year in which the author dies.

Copyright in a Government work shall, where Government is the first owner of the copyright therein, subsist until fifty years from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in which the work is first published.

3. Patents:

A patent grants exclusive rights to an inventor for their invention, including the right to make, use, and sell it. This grant prohibits others from making, using, or selling the invention without permission. Patent protection begins upon the actual granting of the patent.

The patent owner has the authority to determine who can use the patented invention during the protected period. They can license the invention to others or sell the rights to it. Once the patent expires, the protection ends, and the invention becomes part of the public domain. This means that anyone can commercially exploit the invention, as the owner no longer holds exclusive rights to it.

For an invention to be eligible for a patent, it must possess several key characteristics. Firstly, it should be a new and useful process or a product, or it’s improvement . Additionally, the invention must be novel, meaning it is new and has not been previously disclosed. It should also involve an inventive step, meaning it is not obvious to someone skilled in the relevant field. Lastly, the invention must be capable of industrial application, meaning it can be manufactured or used in some form of industry.

Process of registration of Patents as intellectual property rights in Pakistan:

  • An application for patent shall be made to the patent office in the prescribed form along with declaration of the inventor to be the true and first inventor. For every invention, there shall be separate application.
  • The application shall be referred by the controller to an examiner for detailed scrutiny of the application, specification, claims and drawing, if any, to the effect whether the invention is new and involves an inventive step, and to also determine whether other requirements of this Ordinance and rules has e been complied with. 
  • The examiner shall submit the report within eighteenth months of the date of filing of application. Unless an application is accepted within eighteen months from the date of the application, the application shall, except where an appeal has been lodged, be deemed to have been refused:
  • On the acceptance of a complete specification, the Controller shall give notice thereof to the applicant and shall advertise in the official Gazette the fact that specification has been accepted and thereupon the application and the specification, and the priority documents, if any, filed in pursuance thereof shall be open to public inspection.

Term / registration period of patent:

The protection term of a patent lasts for 20 years from the filing date. 

4. Industrial Designs

Industrial design is the process of creatively determining and defining the form and features of a product that will be mass-produced. This design phase occurs before the actual manufacturing process. In contrast, craft-based design is a more personalized approach where the product’s form is largely determined by its creator during the production process.

Intellectual property rights known as “industrial design rights” protect the aesthetics of non-utilitarian items. This category would also include a design patent. The process of creating a shape, configuration, composition, or mix of color and pattern in three dimensions that has aesthetic value is known as industrial design. A two- or three-dimensional pattern used to create a product, industrial commodity, or handcraft is referred to as an industrial design.

Advantages of registered industrial Design:

The owner has the ability to stop third parties from illegally replicating or imitating his or her creation. Furthermore, industrial designs assist guarantee a just return on investment since they enhance a product’s commercial worth and make marketing and commercialization easier.

Industrial design protection promotes ethical business operations & fair competition. It results in the creation of more varied & aesthetically pleasing items, increasing consumer choice.

The extension of commercial operations and the improvement of national product export potential are two ways that industrial design protection promotes a nation’s economic growth.

Duration of registration of Industrial design:

The registration of a design under this Ordinance shall give to the registered proprietor the registration in the registered design for a period of ten years from the date of registration. The Registrar shall extend the period of registration for a second period of ten years from the expiration of the original period and for a third period of ten years from the expiration of the second period if an application for extension of the period of registration for the second or third period is made in the prescribed form before the expiration of the original period-or the second period, as the case may be.

5. Geographical Indications:

A term or symbol used on products that designates a particular geographic area or origin (such as a town or region) is known as a geographical indicator (GI). Geographical indications are also protected under the head of intellectual property rights in Pakistan.

The use of a geographical indication to identify the origins of a product is meant to certify that the product has certain attributes, is manufactured using traditional methods, or has a positive reputation because of its geographic origin.

Registration bodies:

The following four bodies are essential to Pakistan’s GI registration and protection system, as per the GI Act and Rules. 

State: All GIs in Pakistan are ultimately owned by the Federal Government of the State of Pakistan. Stated differently, the Federal Government is the rightful owner of GI.

Registrant: Any public entity may be appointed by the federal government to serve as a GI product registrant. The federal government will designate the Registrant as the custodian. Its duties include collaborating with stakeholders to draft the Book of Specifications, registering it with IPO-Pakistan, submitting registration applications abroad, endorsing Authorized Users for IPO-Pakistan registration, and guaranteeing GI enforcement both domestically and globally.

Authorized users : They are makers, processers, merchants, exporters and different players in the store network of a GI item. They can get enrolled with IPO Pakistan on the suggestion of Registrant which will empower them to utilize GI logo of Pakistan on their items, following SOPs given in the concerned Book of Particular.

Confirmation Body: The concerned Division of Central Government ( Commerce Division) can inform the certification body for each enrolled GI of Pakistan under segment 13 (1) of the GI Demonstration, 2020. The certification body certifies the consistence of items to the concerned Book of Details with the end goal of export and trade.

Registration process of Geographical Indications as Intellectual property rights in Pakistan:

Registration of GI Product:

The registrant body submits a filled-in form GI-01, along with the Book of Specification and the Federal Government’s notification, to the Registrar GI at IPO-Pakistan. There is no fee for registration, and there is no opposition process. The Registrar examines the application and, if appropriate, registers the GI product.

Registration of Authorized Users:

Authorized Users request an assent from the registrant. The registrant shares the Book of Specification (BoS) with the applicant, who ensures their product complies with it and submits an affidavit of compliance to the Registrant. Upon receiving the affidavit, the registrant issues a written assent to the applicant. The applicant then submits their application as an authorized user on GI-01 form to the Registrar GI, along with the registrant’s assent and an official fee of Rs. 1000/.The Registrar examines the application and publishes it in the GI Journal for opposition. If no opposition is received within two months, the Registrar issues a certificate of Authorized User to the applicant.

Registration of Pakistani Geographical indications in Foreign Countries

The registrant as a custodian is responsible for filling application for registration of geographical indications in foreign countries. The registration process can be different depending upon the GI system of the foreign country. Registration can be filed in two ways. 

One way is to apply directly in the particular countries of interest, whereby multiple applications will have to be submitted by Pakistan. The other way is to become a member of Lisbon Agreement (Geneva Act), 2015 under WIPO, In that case, a single application is to be filed which will then be forwarded to all the member countries by WIPO for registration of the GI product. Hence, a single application is filed by Pakistan.

However, Pakistan is yet in the process of signing the Lisbon Agreement (Geneva Act), 2015, and once it is signed, the application process in foreign countries will become easy, in both technical and financial terms.

Duration of registration of Geographical Indications:

The registration of an authorized user of GI shall be for a period of ten years. The Registrar shall, on application made in the prescribed manner, by the authorized user, within the prescribed period and subject to the payment of the prescribed fee, renew the registration of the authorized user, for a period of ten years from the date of expiration of the original registration or of the last renewal of registration, as the case may be.

6. Layout design of integrated circuit:

Layout designs of integrated circuit is a rather a technical thing which also possess intellectual property rights protection in Pakistan. Integrated circuit (IC) layout which is also known as IC mask layout or mask design, is the product which is either in its final form or intermediate form, in which at least one element is the active element and some or all other interconnections are formed on product made of material which is intended to be used for electronic functioning.

Integrated circuit (IC) layout which is also known as IC mask layout or mask design, is the product which is either in its final form or intermediate form, in which at least one element is the active element and some or all other interconnections are formed on product made of material which is intended to be used for electronic functioning.

The representation of an integrated circuit in terms of planar geometric shapes which correspond to the patterns of oxide, metal, or semiconductor layers that make up the components of the integrated circuit.

How long does a layout design protection lasts:

The protection to layout design of integrated circuit lasts for 10 years under the Registered Layout-Designs of Integrated Circuits Ordinance, 2000.

Registration process of Layout designs as intellectual property rights in Pakistan:

  • A separate written application for each layout design shall be submitted in patent office for registration.
  • The application shall consists of the request to register the layout design which either has not been commercially exploited or has been commercially exploited for not more than two year.
  • A power of attorney and a copy or drawing of the layout-design and a sample of the integrated circuit along with information defining the electronic function which the integrated circuit is intended to perform, however, the applicant may omit such parts of the copy or drawing related to the manner of manufacture of the integrated circuit, provided that the part submitted are sufficient to allow the identification of the layout-design shall be annexed with the application.
  • The applicant shall pay the prescribed fee to the patent office.
  • If the application complies all the requirements which are provided in ordinance 2000, the commissioner shall register the layout design in the “Register of Layout designs”

Intellectual Property rights laws in Pakistan:

Intellectual property (IP) laws are crucial for protecting the rights of creators and innovators, ensuring they receive recognition and financial benefits from their inventions and creations. In Pakistan, the legal framework for intellectual property rights (IPR) is evolving, with several laws in place to safeguard various forms of intellectual property. Intellectual property Organization Pakistan Act, 2012 is the main law that provides for the establishment of IPO Pakistan to protect and strengthen the intellectual property laws, rules and regulations. Section 13 of the Act provides for the various functions and powers of the organization in this regard. Here’s a comprehensive overview of the key IP laws in Pakistan:

Trademarks laws in Pakistan:

In Pakistan, trademarks and service marks regulations and registrations are done under Trademark Ordinance 2001

Trademark Rules, 2004. This law protects distinctive signs, logos, and symbols used by businesses to identify their products or services. Trademark registration in Pakistan is valid for 10 years and can be renewed indefinitely. The Trade Marks Ordinance helps businesses protect their brand identity and ensures that consumers can distinguish between different products and services.

Copyrights laws in Pakistan:

In Pakistan, copyright legislation has evolved since independence, starting with the adoption of the British Copyright Act, 1911, and later replaced by the Copyright Ordinance, 1962. Beside this, there is also the Copyright Rules of, 1967 which was amended in 2002, and the Copyright Board (Procedure) Regulations 1981.

This law protects literary, artistic, and musical works, including books, paintings, films, and music. It grants authors, artists, and composers exclusive rights to use, reproduce, and distribute their works. Copyright protection in Pakistan lasts for the lifetime of the author plus 50 years after their death.

Since Pakistan is also a member of the Universal Copyright Convention and the Berne Copyright Union, copyrights of Pakistani citizens are protected just like locally-produced works in all those countries also who are members of these conventions. The protection is extended under the International Copyright Order 1968 (issued under Section 54 of the ordinance).

Patents Laws in Pakistan

The Patents Ordinance 2000 and Patent Rules 2003 are the laws that deals with all the process and matters of Patents in Pakistan. These enactments provide protection for inventions that are new, involve an inventive step, and are capable of industrial application. Patent protection in Pakistan under ordinance of 2000 lasts for 20 years from the date of filing the application. This law encourages innovation by granting inventors exclusive rights to manufacture, use, and sell their patented products.

Industrial Designs Laws in Pakistan

The Registered Designs Ordinance 2000 protects the visual design of products, including their shape, configuration, pattern, or ornamentation. Design protection in Pakistan is valid for 10 years from the date of registration, with the possibility of a 5-year extension. This law encourages creativity in industrial design and helps businesses safeguard their product aesthetics.

Geographical Indications Laws in Pakistan

Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Rules, 2020 are the laws that deals with matters of Geographical indications in Pakistan. This recent law provides protection for products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities, reputation, or characteristics attributable to that origin. Examples include Basmati rice and Pashmina shawls. The act aims to promote and protect Pakistan’s unique products in the global market.

Lay-Out design Laws in Pakistan

Registered Layout-Designs of Integrated Circuits Ordinance, 2000 deals with all kinds of layout designs. The registrations are done under this ordinance. It provides for protection which extends to ten years.

Conclusion: Ensuring protection of intellectual property rights in Pakistan

Intellectual property laws in Pakistan are designed to foster creativity, innovation, and economic growth by protecting the rights of creators and inventors. While the legal framework is in place, effective enforcement and public awareness are crucial for the robust protection of intellectual property rights in the country. Creators and businesses should take proactive steps to register and protect their intellectual property to ensure they reap the full benefits of their innovations and creations.


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