Effective January 1, 2005, Pakistan has entered into the product per se patent protection regime in the field of pharmaceutics and agriculture. With the new regime, the “Black Box” application era has ended up. The old system of UNIFORM filing is now restored. There is, however, no development as to when Pakistan is going to sign the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
Once an application for the grant of a patent is filed, it is examined with respect to compliance with the formalities and patentability provided for under the patent law, including novelty, inventiveness and industrial application. In case of rejection, the applicant has the right to appeal to the High Court within 90 days as of the date of receiving the notification of rejection.
Accepted applications are published in the Official Gazette and any interested party has the right to appeal to the Controller of Opposition within 120 days as of the date of publication in the Official Gazette. In the absence of opposition, the letters patent is issued.
The right to a patent may be assigned or licensed. An assignment shall have no effect against third parties, unless it has been recorded at the Patent Office and published in the Official Gazette.
Working of patents in Pakistan is an official requirement. If the owner of a patented invention does not satisfy the stipulated working requirements within 4 years from the filing date or 3 years from the grant date of the patent, if the working is stopped for 2 consecutive years, if the use does not cover the demands of Pakistan, or if the owner refuses to license it under a contract of fair terms, the patent will be subject to compulsory licensing under the provisions of the law. Importation of products made under the patent is not considered as use.
Although the law does not have any stipulation of novelty except the mention of "new", the Implementing Regulations require the administration to examine the patent as to its novelty: i.e., the new invention has no precedence in the industrial prior art. The industrial prior art means all that was disclosed to the public anywhere at any time whether by written or oral disclosure or by use or any other method which allows the understanding of the invention. Technical know-how is protected from any unauthorized use, breach or disclosure. Infringement of the rights of a patentee is punishable under the provisions of the law.
Under the Patents Ordinance of 2000, four kinds of patents are granted:
1. An ordinary patent which is dated as of the official date of the application for the patent.
2. A patent relating to chemical products intended for use in agriculture and medicines.
3. A patent claiming "priority" which is dated as of the official date of the corresponding application for patent first made in a country which is a member of the WTO.
4. A patent of addition, for the purpose of improving or modifying an invention for which a patent has already been applied or granted.
A patent is valid for 20 years. Annuities are to be paid starting from the fifth year of the patent term and are paid in advance at the beginning of the fourth year.
The right to a patent may be assigned or licensed. An assignment shall have no effect against third parties, unless it has been recorded at the Patent Office and Published in the Official Gazette.