Pakistani brands are gradually realising the significance of registering their trademarks in foreign markets where a delay has already cost a few firms heavily in the shape of expensive legal proceedings, intellectual property lawyers said on Friday.
Foods, textiles and pharmaceuticals are leading the race to register trademarks and patents but these applicants still represent a small fraction of Pakistani firms, which are doing business abroad and don’t bother about protecting their rights.
“Registering a trademark could cost between £2,000 and £3,000,” said Ali Kabir Shah, International Vice President of the Asian Patent Attorneys’ Association.“But not registering it and then fighting a legal battle when someone else has registered your trademark is going to cost you £40,000.”
That is exactly what one of the most popular eateries in Karachi has to face in England where someone has registered its name. “Now as people are approaching them to use their franchise, they are feeling the heat.”
Shah spoke at a small session, which was held for the benefit of those who wanted to learn more about the trademark and patent registration process in the US.
The major potential remains in the packaged food industry. “Believe it or not but Pakola sells more internationally than locally,” he said. “No wonder we see companies like Shan Foods, Ismail Industries and Ahmed Foods taking the trademark deal very seriously.”
However, he said Pakistani companies have yet to accept the importance of branding. “Take the example of rice, which is exported in bulk to Dubai. It is repackaged, branded there and sold for much more in other markets. Our exporters could do the same,” said Shah.
Companies, especially the textile makers that do not rely on traditional model of supplying to global retail chains alone are doing exceptionally well, Khaadi is one such brand.
The kurta-maker has expanded to half a dozen countries and specially focused on protecting its trademark, Shah said. In the absence of any cyber-crime law, Pakistani brands are also facing the challenge of fighting the online market of replicas. “Every major lawn-maker is facing that problem.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2015.
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