As Bangladesh's per capita income has increased, so has business growth at the individual and collective level, in view of Bangladesh's visible economic progress. And the main driver of this business growth is the branding or marketing of the products of one's own business. Needless to say, the branding of one's own business product is the main regulator of the business strategy, and trademark registration in keeping with the proper legal measures keeps the goodwill or reputation of the product or business intact.
Today, 52 years after independence, with the exception of a few natural agricultural products or a small number of commercial products, the country has not been able to assert its position in the competitive business world trade with its own special brand or well-known brand. However, the message of hope is that in the age of digitalisation of the present government, we can file at the earliest by submitting the prescribed fees through online and filling the form in the prescribed manner. By agreement amomh the Department of Patents, Designs and Trademarks (DPDT) under the Ministry of Industries, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) all old and current files of trademarks have been brought under data capturing under IPAS (Intellectual Property Automation System) software, so we can complete the trademark search in a very short time and be sure about the status of pending or registered trademarks with our proposed trademarks. When a product is sold in large quantities in the market, and if the product is of good quality, demand for that product in the market increases. Then the trade name or brand name of that product becomes known as the trademark of that product and the buyer of that product becomes inspired to accept it. This is called IP value. Later it is seen that people know that particular product by the name of the trademark. When this well-known trademark is sold in large quantities in the market, the government benefits as much as the owner of the company or the product. Then trademark registration is required to retain that IP value as one's own asset and for business expansion and promotion.
Trademark office activities started in 1972 in newly independent Bangladesh. Subsequently, the DPDT was launched in 2004 by merging the Patent, Design Office and Trademark Registry under the Ministry of Industries. At present the activities of the department are being conducted in six different wings. As a result, the rate of trademark filing has increased manifold as compared to that of previous years. In a similar continuation, the "Trademarks Act, 2009" enacted in Bengali, repealing the English text of the Bangladesh Trade Marks Act, 1940, was published in Government Gazette on March 24, 2009 and Trademarks Rules 2015 was enacted in Bengali text replacing the Trademarks Rules, 1963 on September 20, 2015.
In 2000, WIPO member states declared April 26 (the day WIPO officially launched) as World Intellectual Property Day. Since 2001, the WIPO has been celebrating World IP Day in different countries every year with different themes. In Bangladesh too, the day is being celebrated spontaneously with the help of government and DPDT through various programmes every year and its importance is increasing in Bangladesh as well as all over the world. Like every time, Bangladesh also observed the day in 2022 with the theme "IP and Youth Innovation for a Better Future".
The main function of the trademark of a company's product is to identify the consumer or the general public with the specific product of that company from other equivalent products in the market. Different companies may have different products of the same type but if a product or service has trademark registration then the consumer is interested to purchase it. Just as trademark registration protects the interests of the manufacturer of the product, the quality of the product or the interests of the services and features, so prohibiting the use of misleading symbols by trademarks law also protects the general interest of the buyer. Awareness of trademarks or trade names can be noticed among consumers or buyers at present. Lately, we notice that consumers buy those specific products at higher prices based on the trademarks and quality of the products. From this it is easy to understand how important a registered trademark is in business.
Ours is a major agricultural country and due to the lack of proper development of our own manufactured industries, intellectual property and related laws have not yet made a significant impact on our lives. Due to the multilateral efforts of the present government, help-desks have been introduced in DPDT and online filing activities have been started for the convenience of trademark service recipients. For this, the general public has become aware of intellectual property registration.
We are still far behind in the practical application of laws against intellectual property registration and intellectual property rights violations. In addition, the biggest frustration is our lack of awareness. With the exception of a very small number of individual traders or industrialists, most of the traders do not have a clear idea about these intellectual property assets and also they are not aware that these trademarks are the main regulators of the individuality and development of the business. Alongside the government, more meetings, seminars and symposiums should be organized at the organizational level to make the entrepreneurs more aware about the intellectual property law.
Nabendu Bhattacharjee is Advocate, Bangladesh Supreme Court.