Kathmandu Post, 5 May 2018
The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies has started work to offer online registration and management of intellectual property (IP) in a bid to facilitate patent, trademark, design and copyright protection. The Patent, Design and Trademark Act 1965 and the Copyright Act 2002 govern IP cases. Violators face a maximum fine of Rs500,000.
The ministry receives very few applications for registration of IP due to lack of awareness and frustratingly lengthy paperwork, it said. So far, it has issued only 74 patents. Meanwhile, 45,000 trademarks and 350 designs have been registered. “There is very little interest in registering patents,” said Industry Secretary Yam Kumari Khatiwada.
Khatiwada said that the paperless system that the government was mulling to introduce would stimulate registration of IP. According to her, applicants can submit documents to register their brands and logos over the internet after the system is implemented. “However, the absence of laws governing digital signatures and online payment systems could prevent full-fledged implementation of the paperless system.”
Weak IP laws have led to a large number of counterfeit products being sold on the market without legal hurdles. As a result, consumers are being cheated because they cannot distinguish between genuine and fake brands due to their identical packaging.
The markets are flooded with fake Center fruit, Centre fresh and Center fillz chewing gum. In another case of brand theft, Kansai Nerolac Paints, an Indian subsidiary of Kansai Paints of Japan, could not launch its products in Nepal as its trademark Nerolac had already been registered by a domestic firm.
Khatiwada said that copyright violations were widespread. “Copyright protection falls under the jurisdiction of different government agencies,” she added.
Copyright laws allow the originator to hold a bundle of rights such as reproduction, translation and alteration, public communication and distribution. Similarly, right of paternity and right of integrity come under the scope of copyright.
Khatiwada said the ministry had started drafting a policy to form an umbrella body that would handle all IP issues. “Registrations, reporting and monitoring of IP will be done by a single entity,” Khatiwada said. She added that the ministry had created a fund to promote innovation in various sectors. However, it is not being effectively mobilised in the absence of a proper mechanism, according to Khatiwada.