Speakers at a virtual discussion on Tuesday stressed the need for strengthening Bangladesh's intellectual property (IP) system, including the establishment of a policy and legal framework.
They suggested taking urgent steps to improve the basic capacity in this regard.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (AmCham) organised the virtual discussion titled "Intellectual Property Rights -Protection and Practices in Bangladesh", with its president Syed Ershad Ahmed in the chair.
Joanne Wagner, chargé d' affaires, the US Embassy in Dhaka, attended the discussion as chief guest while Registrar, Department of Patents, Designs and Trademarks (DPDT) Md. Abdus Sattar and IP Counsellor for South Asia, US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) John Cabeca were present as special guests.
Syed Mohammad Kamal, vice president of AmCham and country manager of MasterCard, Bangladesh moderated the session.
Barrister ABM Hamidul Mishbah, Managing Partner-Old Bailey Chambers and member of AmCham was the keynote speaker.
Showkat Ali Sarkar, Country Manager - Huntsman Bangladesh Pte Ltd and ExCo member - AmCham, Ashraf Bin Taj, Managing Director, International Distribution Co. Bd. (Pvt.) Ltd and member, AmCham, Shilpi Jha, Senior Commercial Specialist and IP Policy Advisor-South Asia, USPTO and Jeff Dirks, Economic/Commercial Officer, US Embassy in Dhaka participated as the panellists.
The speakers said that since Bangladesh economy is in growing status, intellectual property (IP) has become a significant factor in productivity and economic growth.
Strong and effective IP protection is a particularly powerful incentive for firms to invest in generating new technology in sectors where the returns to technological investment are very long term, involve high risks and are easy to copy, they said.
They added that the IP rights provide a further impetus to innovation in that they require an inventor who seeks time-limited protection to publish the knowledge embodied in a product or process.
Moreover, they said that the IPRs are essential to achieve market diversification and to shift towards higher value-added products and services.
A well-balanced IPR system that takes into account a wider public interest is conducive to Bangladesh's current and future socioeconomic development, the speaker also said.
The speakers said the IPR-specific key challenges that need to be addressed to strengthen Bangladesh's IP system include the establishment of a policy-and legal framework.
Up to now IP protection is not adequately integrated into the country's development strategies/policies. The legal framework is still incomplete, but currently the amendment process is going on.
They mentioned that in particular, there is an urgent need for basic capacity building.
Awareness on IPRs among most institutions, businesses, researchers and the public is limited. Consequently, the enforcement of IPRs remains weak.
The complexity of these challenges requires a multi-faceted policy response since the next phase could be much more challenging. It is crucial that the government, private sector, and concerned stakeholders in Bangladesh all step up and work together to adapt as best we can, they also said.