Some 90 per cent of business software is pirated in Bangladesh as it has limited resources to devote to intellectual property rights (IPR) protection, a United States government report has observed.
The US Department of State’s report styled ‘2020 Investment Climate Statements: Bangladesh’ said “The GOB has limited resources to devote to intellectual property rights (IPR) protection. Counterfeit goods are readily available in Bangladesh and industry estimates that 90 per cent of business software is pirated”.
A number of US firms, including film studios, manufacturers of consumer goods, and software firms, have reported violations of their IPR, according to the report released last month.
Investors note police are willing to investigate counterfeit goods producers when informed, but are unlikely to initiate independent investigations, the report reads.
However, Bangladesh has slowly made progress toward bringing its legislative framework into compliance with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), the report points out.
“The government enacted a Copyright Law in July 2000 (amended in 2005), a Trademarks Act in 2009, and a Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act in 2013. The Department of Patents, Designs and Trademarks (DPDT) drafted a new Patent Act in 2014 prepared in compliance with the requirements of the TRIPS Agreement. The draft act remains under Ministry of Industries review, and has not made measurable progress during the past year”, it again reads.
The report insists that public awareness of IPR is growing, thanks in part to the efforts of the Intellectual Property Rights Association of Bangladesh.
“The Software Alliance, also known as BSA, is a trade group established by Microsoft Corporation in 1988. It opened a Bangladesh office in early 2014 as a platform to improve IPR protection in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is not currently listed in the US Trade Representative’s Special 301 or Notorious Markets reports. Bangladesh is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and acceded to the Paris Convention on Intellectual Property in 1991”, it says.
A number of government agencies are empowered to take action against counterfeiting, including the NBR/Customs, Mobile Courts, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), and local Police, the report mentions.
The Department of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP) is charged with tracking and reporting on counterfeit goods and the NBR/Customs tracks counterfeit goods seizures at ports of entry. Reports are not publicly available, as the report.
It, however, acknowledges that Bangladesh has made gradual progress in reducing some investment constraints including taking steps to better ensure reliable electricity.
The report has also pointed out that with sustained economic growth over the past decade, a large, young, and hard-working workforce, strategic location between the large South and Southeast Asian markets, and vibrant private sector, Bangladesh will likely attract increasing investment, despite severe economic headwinds faced by the global outbreak of Covid-19.
The US investment climate statement, which has covered 165 foreign markets, appreciates that Bangladesh offers a range of investment incentives under its industrial policy and export-oriented growth strategy.
It has also listed that Bangladesh actively seeks foreign investment, particularly in the agribusiness, garment/textiles, leather/leather goods, light manufacturing, power and energy, electronics, light engineering, information and communications technology (ICT), plastic, healthcare, medical equipment, pharmaceutical, shipbuilding, and infrastructure sectors.