Govt to Finally Propose A Law to Protect Ownership Rights of Pakistani Origin Goods

The government of Pakistan has finally decided to propose the Geographical Indication (GI) Bill in the National Assembly to protect the ownership rights of goods produced in the country.

According to a report by a private local media outlet, the international brands continue to sell Pakistan-origin goods such as Paul Smith’s Peshawari Chappal, Morrocan Ajrak, and California Basmati, depriving the country to get premium on its Geographical Indication in the international market.

Due to the absence of Geographical Indication legislation, the local manufacturers and the country are unable to get a fair value of their commodities.

The report stated that a senior official in the commerce ministry told that the cabinet committee for disposal of legislative cases has approved the draft of GI (Registration and Protection) Bill, 2019.

“We will now table the legislation in the parliament after cabinet approval”, the officer said.

This bill identifies the products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or reputation attributable to their place of origin. These are generally traditional products that have gained a reputation in the local, national or international market due to their specific unique qualities.

The bill will help protect various products local to the country including Hunza Apricots, Charsadda/Peshawari Chappal, Multani halwa, Sindhi Ajrak, Sargodha’s Kinno, Kasuri Methi, Sindhri Mangoes, Dir Knives, Swat Wild Mushrooms, Nili-Ravi Buffalo, Chaman Grapes, Pashmina Shawls, etc.

Proposed Geographical Indication Draft

The draft aims to recognize and protect these products through legislation allowing the community of producers to get a fair value of their commodities while preserving their unique identity.

The Member countries of the World Trade Organisation are required to protect GIs under Article 22-24 of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement. Similarly, the commerce ministry has also finalized a draft of the GI (Registration and Protection) Bill, 2019, which will provide for the registration and effective protection of the GIs of Pakistan.

As per the proposed set up, application for registration of a GI will be filed by a government body representing the actors (producers, processors, etc.) of the specific GI product. The application will be accompanied by a series of details from history, the origin of the product to processing of the product.

According to the report, the GI Bill entails that once a GI is registered, an infringement action can be initiated both by the registrant and by authorized users whose names have been entered in the register. GI Bill also recognizes registration of a foreign GI. The civil and criminal legal remedies available under the GI Bill would facilitate business confidence among the producers and manufacturers.

The bill specifies that a trademark shall not be granted if it contains a GI for goods and the products do not originate from the region in question.

The proposed bill also provides for both civil and criminal remedies in cases of infringement. The criminal remedies include the imposition of fine or imprisonment or both.

A separate government advisory commission will be established for GI to advise the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan or any other autonomous body under the administrative control of the Ministry of Commerce.

The Advisory Commission will be appointed by the federal government including members from the agriculture departments and textile Ministry etc. The decisions of the commission will aim to protect the identity of each product, authenticity, strong link to the territory and its quality.