In today’s globalised world, a developing country like Nepal can hardly hope to benefit if legal provisions governing intellectual properties are not well in place. In recent years, Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) have moved away from being esoteric and just a technical topic to one incorporating vast paradigms of trademark, patent, open content, copyright, to name a few. It is an issue increasingly affecting all creators and investors alike paving the way for healthy competition and sustainable economic growth. The existing Patent and Trademark Act 1965 and the Copyrights Act 2002, brought in after fierce lobbying over the years, are not sufficient to protect the ownership rights of individual creators. No doubt the Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Department of Industry the other day urged the public and the private sector to understand the need for effective legal provisions, so also mass awareness, to protect IPRs, an issue moving at a snail pace here in Nepal. Though Nepal became a member of World Intellectual Property Organisation in 1997, it is said that only 60 products have been registered for patent so far. And it is not that Nepal does not have much to be protected. Its vast bio-diversity that includes indigenous plants, herbs etc need to be safeguarded under the intellectual property laws.
Transforming the traditional approaches into knowledge and technology-based business tools, as experts argue, need a rule-based system, and for this the policy-makers at home should waste no time in bringing the appropriate legislation into play. At the same time, it is also imperative to remember that intellectual property is basically a West-dominated concept
promoted to protect the interest of the developed world. However, though the critics of IPRs claim it to be inherently discriminatory towards the developing countries, and though disparity
exists, the poorer nations are left with no option but to accept it as a reality of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) regime.
With Nepal’s entry into the WTO, it would only serve the country good to move forward carefully protecting the rich diversity by enacting practical laws. On hindsight, IPRs regime can be a unique opportunity for Nepal to capitalise on its treasures and resources. Some good money can be earned if the right over its products is traded off judiciously without compromising too much. But a weak legal system will only marginalise Nepal’s prospect to benefit from the complex world trade system. Thus, to ensure inventors’ and consumers’ rights, Nepal has to revise and put in place the official requirements relating to intellectual properties.