Current state of Intellectual Property Administration in Bangladesh

In Bangladesh Intellectual Property (IP) is administered by two separate ministries. The two offices responsible for IP matters in these two ministries are –

I.  The Department of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks (DPDT) under the Ministry of Industries (MOI), Industrial Property matters are administered by this department. The DPDT is affiliated to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) since 1985.

II.  The Copyright Office under the Ministry of Cultural Affairs (MOCA). Matters related to Copyrights and related rights are administered by this office. The Copyright Office continues receive support from the WTO, WIPO, and UNESCO for enriching its copyright system.

Department of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks (DPDT) – Organizational Framework: The Registrar is the head of the department. Four Deputy Registrar are assigned in 4 wings –
I. Patents and Designs
II. Trade Marks
III. WTO

  1. Administration and Finance

A team of Assistant Registrar(s), Examiners and Staff is formed under the leadership of each Registrar.
At present the head of the department and other senior employees are appointed by the Ministry of Public Administration. But the general rule is Public Service Commission (PSC) will employ the examiners at the initial level in the department. And gradually those examiners will be promoted to the higher ranked posts and consequently one of them will occupy the post of the Registrar. But the problem is most of the examiners do not stay long enough in this department to achieve that post of the Registrar.

 

Funding: DPDT is funded by the Government of the Bangladesh. The revenue it earns from many other proceeding charges are considered as Government Revenue and the DPDT cannot use any fraction of its income. The government provides expenditure of DPDT and takes back the earning of DPDT. So it does not retain any operating surplus.

The DPDT is audited by the Local and Revenue Audit Directorate. And the audit findings are partially published in the Annual Report of the MOI.

 

Key Functions of DPDT: The basic functions of DPDT is mostly limited to the following –

Patents and Designs Wing:
I. To grant patents or designs for inventions and innovations and maintained it.
II. To assist technologists and entrepreneurs for technology transfer.
III. To give registration for industrial designs.
IV. To assist law enforcing agencies for counterfeit and infringe products.
V. Contribute in products for its developments.
VI. To create awareness to local manufacturers and business organizations.
VII. To give support in manufactures and industrial developments.
VIII. To assist in foreign investment through patent information.
IX. To assist research and development activities of universities and other research Organizations through patent system.

Trademarks Wing:
I. To deal with local and foreign applications for trademarks registration.
II. Maintaining index card alphabetically indicating the class of the product.
III. Examine the trademarks applications after sought out the similar and dissimilar marks.
IV. To accept or refuse the registration of trademarks.
V. Publish the approved trademarks is trademark journal.
VI. Conduct the opposition and rectification cases for disputed marks and its settlement.
VII. Amend the trademark application and the register after hearing.
VIII. Issue trademark certificate.
IX. Issue renewal certificate.
X. The activities like assignment, transmission, change of description of the proprietor after registration.
XI. Disseminate trademark related information to manufacturers and businessmen.
XII. Maintained, supervision and maintenance of records and the register.
XIII. To give advice and any assistance to Government in forming related rules and laws.
XIV. To ensure ownership.
XV. To comply the international agreement like TRIPs, Paris Convention etc.

In order to develop the skills of personnel 7 officials were sent abroad for training, 16 staffs and 7 officials were internally trained and 20 more staffs were trained from BIM from the year 2010 to 2011. This is not enough to meet up the need for examiners with specialized knowledge on different branches of science, especially to check the novelty of a Patent application. Even if PSC is able to recruit some skilled persons they showed a lack of interest to continue working in the DPDT. There is also no plan for need based training programs either for short term or long term. Formal and Substantive Examination: The national IP office undertakes three types examinations which are designed to check the following three aspects of a patent right –

  1. Novelty
  2. Inventive Step

III. Industrial Application

The DPDT follows a first come first served policy. That is, if two parties asked for the same IP right then the party applied earlier would be considered first. National IP databases from different countries and the international database set up by the WIPO are used to check the novelty and decide on the invention step of an application. For being an LDC, the DPDT can use these databases for free. Automation and Modernization:

 

The following measures have been undertaken regarding the automation and modernization of the DPDT

 

  1. Granting of Patents system of the Department has been partially automated under a project titled” Nationally Focused Action Plan (NFAP) for the Government of Bangladesh for Modernization of Patent Office “with the technical and financial assistance of WIPO.
  2. Registration of Trademarks system has also been partially automated under a separate project titled “Modernization and strengthening of Intellectual Property administration in Bangladesh” with the technical and financial assistance of WIPO.

III. Currently, a project under the title “Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Project” with the technical and financial assistance from EC and WIPO is being implemented.

Implementation of the project will ensure better service to public and private sector, industrialists and R&D institutes.

 

  1. An automated database of granted patents, registered designs and trademarks is underway that will help to enhance the IP activity in Bangladesh.
  2. Establishment of Bangladesh Intellectual Property Organization (BIPO), bringing all IP related offices under one umbrella organization is in progress.

The DPDT publishes the documents and information about the patent, trademark and design applications in the Bangladesh Gazette. The Trademark Journal is also used to disseminate the information on IP applications.

 

The IP registration has the scope automation. Although the necessary application forms can be downloaded from the DPDT website, it is not possible to carry out the electronic transaction. The required amount has to be paid through pay-orders. Besides, the DPDT has no other regional offices across the county except the Trademark office in Chittagong. Communication Issues: The main mechanism used by the national IP office for communicating with the users of IP system is Letter by Post. Phone Service is also frequently used. For the public consultation on the impact of IP rights generally the print media is used. IP application and Grants: The following table shows the number of received and approved IP application in 2009 IP Application Received by the DPDT approved by the DPDT. Till now not a single domestic firm has applied for IP protection in abroad. But it is expected that in the near future the team of the scientists, who discovered the genetic form of papaya tree, jute tree, fungus etc., may ask for international IP protection. Almost 7000 patent applications and 6000 designs applications are pending right now.

The trademark division received 1, 98,706 trademark applications from 1971 to 2016. Among them 1,00,000 applications is still pending.

Rajin Ahmed

Ph.D. (Fellow), Advocate. Member: Bangladesh Intellectual Property Law Society (BIPLS). Member: Society for Information and Research on Business Intellectual Inventions (SIRBII). Associate: Intellectual Property Association of Bangladesh

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