The importance of intellectual property is inevitable when it comes to economic growth and the creation of employment. Bangladesh is in its 50 years now. So while dreaming of a digital Bangladesh, the country must also focus on protecting all the innovation that will drive to make the dream comes true. Bangladesh has enriched diverse culture and deeply rooted heritage, which is reflected well in our literature, paintings, music, cinema, clothing, architecture, and so on. This culture and tradition are so different from other nations and need care and protection for their survival.
With decades passing by, the number of trademark registrations and filings is on the rise. The national and international registration with not much difference in numbers is still making a mark in the graph when it comes to development. The Patents and Design Act 1911 is still the only law as the new Patents Act is yet to come into force.It has been more than two decades since the Copyright Act 2000 (as amended in 2005) is enacted, but there hardly have any use of it. In a country that is rich in tradition and culture and where the high valuation of intellectual property vests in songs and cinemas, the creators of these creations are deprived of their royalties and the government of its taxes and revenues, closing the window for new creative minds.
Geographical Indication Act 2013 comes with a protection of the GI products of Bangladesh. Only three products have so far been registered. Those are Jamdani, Hilsha, Khirshapat Mango, and the others on their way for acceptance.
Trade secrets still lack its awareness and importance as well as enforcement. Many companies, individuals and organisations are taking benefits of not having proper agreements while sharing any ideas or projects or any advancement.
The main areas are awareness building, capacity building, expertise, training and unity of the stakeholders that need to focus on to flourish the IP industry. Intellectual creations of more creators should be given priority over any other things, including business, because if the intellectuals are devalued, no new creators are born, and, therefore, no business can evolve. Hence, proper law in protecting rights and enforcement remains vital. The expertise in the IP sector should be identified and given preference so that loopholes can be closed to build up a healthy IP industry that is beneficial to all.
The Digital Security Act 2018 and its rules need interpretation in harmony with the IP laws for proper identification and the enforcement of the law is also very important when it comes to the protection of moral and economic rights. Export and import policy, Money Laundering and Prevention Act 2002 (as amended in 2008 and 2012) and tax issues must be taken into consideration while issuing any IP right. Accession to new Treaties for protection of rights and handling the pressure from the developed countries where IP rights are strictly maintained can be a challenge but will evade with time. In the era of the digital world, where privacy and data are being monetised and contribute as a source of revenue due to lack of law, policies and expertise, it is high time for specialised cyber protection and data governance unit for a better Bangladesh.
The writer is the founder and president of Women in IP Bangladesh and secretary general, Copyright Society