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Europe, Fast East, Asian countries working with Pak Customs on trade mark infringement issues: Kanwal Ali

Europe, Fast East, Asian countries working with Pak Customs on trade mark infringement issues: Kanwal Ali

ISLAMABAD: Directorate of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Enforcement Additional Director Kanwal Ali said that since the establishment of Directorate General of IPR Enforcement a significant number of right-holders from US, Europe, Far East and Asia are working directly with Pakistan Customs on their trade-mark related infringement issues.

Talking with Customs Today during an exclusive interview Kanwal Ali said that Directorate General of IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) Enforcement became operational in 2017 after IPR Rules were notified vide SRO 170 dated March 16th, 2017. It is one of the recently recognized departments within Pakistan Customs.

Answering to a query she said that the rationale behind the creation of IPR was to provide a single-stop for international and national right-holders to seek remedies against the infringement of their intellectual property rights in imports and exports. She added that as per directives of Director General Dr. Arslan Subuctageen, the immediate objective after the establishment of the Customs IPR Directorates all over the country was to integrate them within the WeBOC Electronic Customs Clearance system accomplished by January 2019.

She informed that a total of 194 cases worth Rs 200 million of counterfeit goods have been detected nationwide since the operationalization of Directorate General of IPR Enforcement in 2017.

She notified that huge quantities of these counterfeit goods were destroyed in two ceremonies held at Karachi in January 2019 and April 2019. Most of the counterfeit items destroyed included empty shampoo bottles, medicines, tooth pastes, toiletries, perfumes, watches, contraceptives and makeup products as some of these fast moving consumer goods pose a serious threat to health and safety of consumers.

The Directorate General of IPR Enforcement has accelerated its training and awareness activities all over Pakistan. A total of 36 training and interactive sessions and seminars have been carried out, which were attended by more than a thousand participants. An external outreach training program was also rolled out in May 2019 under which approximately 80 officers and officials of Pakistan Customs posted at MCC, Islamabad, MCC Peshawar and Directorate of IPR Central Lahore were trained on interdiction of counterfeit goods.

Kanwal Ali said that the Customs IPR in Pakistan is also taking steps to improve the country’s IPR global ranking, through its efforts to get Pakistan’s name removed from the watch list of US Trade Representative. Earlier in 2015 Pakistan was in the list of countries on Priority Watch list. Due to improvement in our IPR enforcement mechanism, the country was listed in the Watch list in 2017. India still happens to be in the Priority Watch list.

She said the ultimate beneficiary of IPR border enforcement is the genuine trade itself, whether national or international. One of the core functions of Customs is trade facilitation. In Customs, trade facilitation is for trade in genuine goods only; it does not extend to the clandestine trade in illicit or counterfeit products. This is the spirit of the TRIPS and WTO’s Agreement on Trade Facilitation, to which Pakistan is a signatory.

She said apart from the fact she added that IPR enforcement is a full-fledge Customs function, it is also one of the key mechanisms for sustained economic growth. No business, whether big or small, can sustain itself in its quest for expansion and growth, unless it is assured of state protection against unfair competition and illicit practices. Since the establishment of Directorate General of IPR Enforcement, a significant number of right-holders from US, Europe, Far East and Asia are working directly with Pakistan Customs on their trade-mark related infringement issues.

She said that we are hopeful that Pakistan Customs will stand out in IPR Enforcement at borders and continue to curb the import of counterfeit goods. The basis for this optimism is our performance, continuous engagement with national and foreign stakeholders, and dedication to the cause of ensuring health and safety for consumers.