Securing innovation: tackling widespread counterfeiting and intellectual property piracy in Pakistan

Monday 29 April 2024

Sahar Iqbal
Akhund Forbes, Karachi

Pakistan, like many countries, is confronting a significant issue in the form of increasing counterfeiting and intellectual property (IP) infringement, which poses a risk to innovation and economic development. This complicated problem not only poses the danger of impeding the growth of a strong innovation environment but also presents substantial threats to economic stability, public health and consumer safety. The effectiveness of Pakistan’s legislative measures to combat these threats is a subject of critical importance, necessitating a comprehensive examination of the existing legal framework, its implementation challenges and the way forward.

Legal framework

Pakistan’s legal framework for safeguarding IP rights includes various laws and compliance with global agreements. The Copyright Ordinance of 1962,[1] the Patents Ordinance of 2000,[2] and the Trade Marks Ordinance of 2001[3] are fundamental components of the nation’s IP protection system. The creation of the Intellectual Property Organisation of Pakistan under the Intellectual Property Organisation of Pakistan Act of 2012 was a significant move in strengthening IP registration and enforcement activities.[4] Despite the efforts and Pakistan’s adherence to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), combating IP infringements continues to be a challenging experience.


Enforcement is a major obstacle in combating counterfeiting and IP infringement. Although in theory, the legislative structure seems thorough enough, its implementation encounters substantial challenges. Often, law enforcement organisations may not have the specialised training required to recognise and address IP infringements effectively. Additionally, the legal proceedings for IP disputes are widely known for their sluggish pace, dissuading several rights holders from seeking legal redress. The result is a legal system which faces challenges in delivering prompt and efficient solutions for IP infringements.

Technological progress also hampers IP protection. The internet and developments in copying technologies have made digital piracy an even more challenging issue for current regulations to address. Many of the laws regarding copyright and patents were created during a previous technological period and now need substantial revisions to adapt to the challenges of digital content distribution and online counterfeiting. The absence of legislation in this area exposes inventors and innovators to potential exploitation.

The problem is made worse by the level of public awareness regarding IP rights and the repercussions of counterfeiting and piracy. The public’s comprehension of IP principles is insufficient, leading to a culture where counterfeit goods are frequently bought and used with no regard for the legal or ethical consequences. This request for fake items continues the pattern of IP violation, emphasising the need for thorough education initiatives to alter society’s perceptions on IP rights.

The way forward

Pakistan must implement a comprehensive strategy to tackle these difficulties effectively. It is essential to revise current laws to address the complexities of digital piracy and online counterfeiting. The changes should provide specific consequences for digital IP violation, as well as simplifying the procedures for registering and safeguarding IP in the digital era. Improving the enforcement mechanism is equally important. Specialised training for law enforcement officials and judges on IP matters can enhance their capacity to handle such situations effectively and sensitively.

It is also crucial to improve public knowledge on the significance of IP rights and the dangers linked to counterfeit items. Educational programmes should focus on informing customers about the economic, health and safety consequences of counterfeiting and piracy. Educating the public on the importance of innovation and the impact of IP protection in promoting economic growth and development can effectively decrease the demand for counterfeit products.


Pakistan has established a foundation for IP protection through its legal structure, but nevertheless faces various difficulties in enforcement, technological progress and public knowledge. To tackle these concerns effectively, a comprehensive strategy involving legislative revisions, enhanced enforcement, global collaboration and public awareness is necessary. By undertaking these measures, Pakistan can hope to secure its innovation ecosystem, protect IP rights, and pave the way for sustainable economic development.


[1] Copyright Ordinance, 1962, https://www.fia.gov.pk/files/act/27.pdf accessed 19 April 2024.

[2] Patent Office, Government of Pakistan, ‘A guide to inventors and applicants for patents in Pakistan (4th edn), 2001 https://wipolex-res.wipo.int/edocs/lexdocs/laws/en/pk/pk001en.pdf accessed 19 April 2024.

[4] The Gazette of Pakistan, Islamabad, 6 December 2012 https://na.gov.pk/uploads/documents/1355912657_971.pdf accessed 19 April 2024.