Chaos over intellectual property rights continue
Most countries in today's world have a unified office for intellectual property, where people can avail all services at a 'one-stop centre', but Bangladesh yet remains an exception. For years on end, we have demanded for a unified IP office to decrease people's sufferings. But the tug-of-war between industries and our cultural ministry have noticeably resulted in an all-pervading chaos over intellectual property and copy rights for decades.
Currently, the cultural ministry's copyright office provides copyright certificates, while the Department of Patents, Designs and Trademarks (DPDT) -- under the industries ministry - provides other services.
The point, however, because of unrelenting conflicts between two ministries, the plan to establish a unified and independent intellectual property (IP) office to provide copyrights, patents, design, and trademark certificates has been stuck in limbo.
It is time for both parties to acknowledge this manmade and unnecessary professional dilemma, arrange dialogues and jointly establish a unified and independent intellectual property office.
A robust and properly enforced Intellectual Property Rights protect consumers and families. In addition, clearly chalked out IP rights help consumers make an educated choice about the safety, reliability, and effectiveness of their purchases. And least to say, IP rights foster confidence and ease of mind that consumers demand and markets rely on.
However, it is astonishing to note that despite Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's clear instructions to unify both offices in 2010 and 2014, no steps have been taken to unify the offices. Moreover, a meeting was held in October of 2015 presided by the then principal secretary to establish a unified IP office. But despite several discussions and meetings, all efforts fell through.
In the latest series of developments, two separate meetings had been held presided over by the principal secretary and officials of the two ministries. The outcome is trifling - the two ministries will only exchange data through unified software. The second meeting held less than a week ago decided to form a committee, which will comprise the DPDT, copyright office, and ICT department.
Our demand is simple: It would be wise for authorities' concerned to start thinking about having a centralised national IP office for industrial IP and copyrights, under which departments providing specific services will work separately.
It is not impossible at all to introduce such a convenient setup.
Last of all, overall importance for the IPR protection, encouraging innovation and technology transfer and the level of awareness of stakeholders needs to be strengthened in today's Bangladesh more than any time before. Therefore, all stakeholders needs to act and work together towards a common goal for creating an effective and stronger IPR regime in Bangladesh.