a year ago

Govt makes time-bound IPR action plan

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The government has undertaken an eight-point time-bound strategic action plan on intellectual property rights (IPR), recommending lobbying for extension of TRIPS transition period, among others, officials said.

The action plan that identifies a number of post-graduation challenges also suggested conducting impact assessment related to the possible loss of TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) exemptions on the promising industries by this year.

Bangladesh as an LDC (least developed country) benefits from TRIPS flexibilities, which will come to an end once the country graduates from the LDC status in 2026, they added.

The Ministry of Industries prepared the action plan after the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) instructed the ministry to formulate the strategy on IPR - mainly to identify the possible challenges and their way-outs after Bangladesh's graduation.

Earlier, the government formed a sub-committee on IPR to prepare the action plan with to create an IP-compliant environment as well as benefit from its own innovation and technological development, they noted.

When asked, Industries Secretary Zakia Sultana said, "We have taken an action plan initially on how to address the post-graduation challenges."

After the graduation, Bangladesh will no longer enjoy the benefits of TRIPS waiver, which in general is until July 01, 2034, while pharmaceutical patent waiver is until July 2033.

The plan proposes a timeframe until this December to initiate lobbying for extension of the TRIPS transition period, she noted.

Another official said the time might be extended until 2024, as the issue involves many stakeholders and it is a 'complex' task.

"Bangladesh must align with the LDC group for lobbying to extend the general transition period and continue bilateral discussion with the advanced developed countries," the plan noted.

It also found IPR enforcement as one of the major challenges, saying the IP institutions and IP enforcement agency pay less priority to IP-related cases. Some 1,304 patent applications remain pending in the mailbox.

"Bangladesh should immediately close mailbox applications by an administrative order," it said, proposing next December as the timeline.

The National Board of Revenue (NBR), Judiciary, Bangladesh Police, IP offices, Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, and Bangladesh Competition Commission offices should be more active on IP issues.

The plan also proposed measures for strengthening institutional capacities by June 2023 and ensuring enforcement by 2024.

The other challenges included adverse impacts of stringent patent provision on pharmaceutical industry after the LDC graduation, and it recommended revisiting the existing Patent Act by next year.

Among medium priority issues, the plan proposed collaboration among civil service, trade associations, academia and media, saying the private sector needs to be informed about the benefits of IP protection.

Terming knowledge about IP protection 'extremely limited in Bangladesh', it suggested measures to increase public awareness by June 2024.

Bangladesh needs to formulate some laws, including Industrial Design Act, Data Protection and Trade Secret Act, to protect trade data, genetic resources, layout design, traditional knowledge and integrated circuit, according to the plan.

The country might seek technical supports from the WIPO in drafting laws, it noted, proposing June 2024 timeframe for doing the same.

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