Experts point at the need for a separate institution to deal with IP-related issues

Kathmandu, March 13

As the government is framing a law on intellectual property rights based on the integrated intellectual property rights policy, experts have recommended that the draft bill should cover entire intellectual properties and envision a separate institution to deal with IP-related issues.

The current law on intellectual property covers only patent, trademark, design and copyright, which is not sufficient, according to Shilpi Jha, senior policy and legal counsel for intellectual property - South Asia at Embassy of the United States of America.

The US Embassy in Kathmandu has provided orientation to the private sector of Nepal on the norms and values of intellectual property rights as the US-based companies and private investors from the developed world are sensitive regarding intellectual property rights. She said that the draft bill of the intellectual property rights should be comprehensive and encompass patent, trademark, design, copyright, trade secrets, geographical indication, traditional plant varieties and integrated circuit.

Citing an example of Kansai Nerolac paint, which lost legal trademark battle in Nepal, Jha said that intellectual property law in Nepal does not even recognise a well-known brand. “Whoever first registers a trademark in Nepal is valid irrespective of how popular the trademark is worldwide and where it is registered — this is a cause for concern for foreign investors,” Jha asserted. “Nepal can’t be in isolation and should have strong intellectual policy regime to attract foreign investment.”

The Japanese joint venture investment with Indian company Kansai Nerolac Paint changed its name as KNP later as the appellate court issued a verdict in favour of a local businessman who registered the trademark first at the Department of Industry. However, a review petition has been filed at the Supreme Court and the case of trademark ownership is sub-judice at the apex court.

There are several other trademark related cases, mostly sourcing from similar sounding names. Godrej and Podrej, Centre Fresh and Centre Fillz, are just a few examples of similar sounding products available in the market.

Jha from the US Embassy also highlighted on the need to train those involved in law enforcement, like the police, judges, staffers of the intellectual property rights office, among others.

Similarly, Nepal Group President of Asian Patent Attorneys Association (APAA) Janak Bhandari underpinned the need of Intellectual Property Rights Tribunal as a separate judicial body to look into the cases of violation of intellectual property rights. He also urged streamlining the authority to settle IP-related cases. Currently various ministries are authorised to look into such issues, based on their jurisdiction.