Pakistan’s Ministry of Commerce and Textile has announced an increase in fees for all intellectual property (IP) matters.
In a notification on Monday, March 4, the government said fees will jump by 50% from March 9 for all trademark and patent related matters. Revised copyright fees will be put into practice on March 14.
Talib Ali Shah, an associate at Ali & Associates in Karachi, said the sudden hike in fees has come as a shock to many stakeholders
Shah said the effective date of the new fees gives “firms and trademark attorneys almost no lead time to prepare and inform clients”, including those that are overseas.
Salim Hasan, an executive partner at Meer & Hasan in Lahore, Pakistan, said the increase will certainly impact small businesses and individuals, but “is not likely to impact medium to big enterprises”.
Shah added there was already a lack of awareness about the important of intellectual property registration among small enterprises, and these sudden revisions “will only enhance that gap”.
“In the prevailing economic situation of the country, the multifold increase” will only “penalise creators, inventors and brand owners from securing their rights,” he said.
He described the increase as “counterproductive”, and said it created a “long-term disincentive for IP protection, for a short-term increase in revenues”.
Ashin Chungath, IP consultant manager at Jah & CO IP in Qatar, said the revision of the fee structure will provide Pakistan’s IPO with the necessary finances “to make it a robust organisation” that meets international standards.
“Additional funds are required to upgrade the IP infrastructure and support proposed initiatives which cannot be met under the existing fee structure,” Chungath said.
According to Chungath, Pakistan’s existing lower fee structure allows for the filing of many undesirable applications for trademark registrations, “with the ulterior motives of killing competition, instead of safeguarding intellectual property rights”.
The increase in fees will help to discourage these applications, he said.
Currently, a trademark application costs 2,000 ($14) Pakistani rupees (PKR). As of March 9, this will increase to 3,000PKR.
The increase in patent application fees means inventors will pay 7,065PKR instead of 4,710PKR.
Pakistan last revised its fee structure in 2011, when its IP legislation was amended in line with the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
But, according to Shah, this increase has not yet led to improvement in the system or facilities at the ground level of the registries.