Many countries have adopted geographical indication (GI) laws to protect indigenous products, including handicrafts and agricultural, natural, horticultural and industrial products originating from a specific region. On 27 March 2020, after revisions and much deliberation, Parliament finally passed the Geographical Indications (Registration and Protection) Act 2020 in order to establish a system for the recognition, registration and protection of GI rights in Pakistan. This article sets out the act's salient features.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pakistan has been under a nationwide lockdown since 23 March 2020. As such, the Competition Commission recently launched an online M&A application filing system to facilitate local and foreign stakeholders with mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures. Further, in order to continue its regular functions amid the pandemic, the Competition Commission has resumed hearings by allowing parties to participate through videoconferencing.
The Patents Ordinance 2000 is a consolidated amended law relating to the protection of inventions and patents in Pakistan. As a registered patent owner, a patentee can authorise or prevent third parties from using its patent or manufacturing a product or offering to sell a product or service that uses its patented invention, subject to certain limitations.
Pursuant to a complaint by Nestlé Pakistan Limited, the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) initiated an inquiry into Engro Foods Limited for misleading consumers and engaging in deceptive marketing practices under the Competition Act 2010. The CCP concluded that Engro Foods had been involved in deceptive marketing practices and, in the interest of the general public and other market players, recommended that proceedings be initiated against it.
The Lahore High Court recently heard an appeal of the registrar of trademarks' decision to delete a mark on the grounds of non-use. The appellant had failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove its mark, whereas the respondent had filed extensive documentary evidence to show that it was a bona fide manufacturer and user of the relevant trademark.
The Intellectual Property Tribunal recently vacated an interim injunction granted in a case brought by Brands for Less LLC against another retailer concerning its use of the BRANDS 4 LESS mark. The tribunal found that Brands for Less had failed to make an adequate case for granting an interim injunction and stated that a well-known mark may be a good ground for registering IP rights in another territory, but not for injunctive relief, unless a balance of convenience can be established.
The Competition Commission recently decided on a joint pre-merger application by Uber Technologies, Inc and Careem Inc and concluded that – based on its assessment of the relevant market – the proposed merger was likely to substantially weaken competition through the creation or strengthening of a dominant position in the relevant market. Thus, the commission initiated a Phase II review.
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.