Did you know that, if you have children, you are an international criminal? No matter how bizarre it sounds, it can be the reality of near future! Critics claim that the U.S. Patent Office seems to have lost their collective minds thus accepting such strange applications. Not only U.S. but also most of the developed countries are involved in a secret fight through a new mechanism which has the potential to establish and secure their commercial strength and political influence lawfully!
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Protection mechanism designed with Patent, Copyright, Trademark, Industrial Design, Geographical Indication and Trade Secrets that include your inventions, your works in art and literature, your commercial identity, culture, heritage and traditional practices.
Globalization is providing opportunities to blend up cultures and ideas. Developed countries are more concerned about IPR implementation when the non-developed countries are desirous to take the benefit of globalization. However, the truth is that developed countries are also stealing the ideas, works and heritages frequently. For examples: “BASMATI RICE” is a type of native rice of our country. An U.S. company got patent registration on it in U.S., and tried to stop harvesting it in India and Southeast Asia! Indian government rejected U.S. claim saying that it has been already registered as their regional food. Surprisingly enough, we had no legal forum to protect our culture and geographical heritage! Our dominant-neighbor India has already got registration on Jamdani Saree & Nakshikantha as India’s GI product from Andhra Prodesh. Still there are many more issues on risk like: Fazli Mango, Bamboo streamed rice etc. Unknowing to us, our inventions, works, cultures & heritages are being stolen frequently only because of our legislative weakness and lack of awareness.
How IP will control the commercial world?
Several international treaties & protocols i.e. the Madrid Protocol, the Lisbon Agreement, and WTO administered TRIPS set the rules regarding the protection of IPR that governs cross border trade having direct impact on the frameworks affecting foreign direct invention and innovation. Developed countries indirectly compel non-developed countries to enter into bilateral and multilateral treaties, the pressure of which causes the non-developed countries to enact unpractical laws that hinder their Intellectual potentials. Normally, liberal international rules do not apply in between countries in presence of bilateral treaties. For example: TICFA(Trade and Investment Coope-ration Framework Agreement) treaty between Bangladesh and America is, in my opinion, a commercial burden for Bangladesh.
What Bangladesh should do?
Bangladesh needs three-tier strategy: national, regional and international. Policy makers should acquire clear understanding regarding IPR. Besides, general people should be well informed and aware of their rights as IPR can promote socio-economic development and ensure higher economic benefit through Branding Bangladesh.
What an Individual should do?
If you have an invention or a unique work; and if you want to keep it protected for commercial purpose; even, if you don’t have any such intention, to run further research or development you should take your registration first because no one knows what luck your simple invention might bring to you (Example: Face Book).
Take professional help of an IP practitioner most importantly as the application process involves many legal and technical issues which may bring you an abortive conclusion. Keep your secrets secret until you have filed an application for registration.
IPR mechanism has both the aspects: we can rule or be ruled! Being an under developed country we have points of arguments and scope of negotiation with the corporate leaders; who will, by hook or crook, make their way out to making money selling their ideas to us; if possible, selling our own ideas to us! It is the high time to be aware, to be active on your rights. You might not be an entrepreneur yourself, but you have an idea you would like to see it exploited-it might have the potential to gift you a better future, to give us a better world. A huge battle in the courts around the world is currently taking place over these rights that may well effect changes in the law. Before it is too late, before the flexible laws change and before the corporate giants become harsh on us; we should start working on this issue to protect individual interest as well as to promote our country.
Shaleh Akram Somrat is Advocate of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and an IP Law Practitioner. Email:Shaleakramlaw@gmail.com