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Nepal’s government perceives intellectual property as less prioritized field, says IP lawyer

17 January 2024

Nepal’s government perceives intellectual property as less prioritized field, says IP lawyer

Ram Chandra Subedi, Founder and Managing Partner,  Apex Law Chamber

According to Ram Chandra Subedi, founder and managing partner at Apex Law Chamber in Kathmandu, Nepal’s government perceives intellectual property as a less prioritized field. He said this explains why a draft bill, which will become Nepal’s Intellectual Property Act once passed, has not reached Parliament more than four years after it was formulated.

The draft bill, aligned with global advancements and complies with the WTO/TRIPS Agreement, replaces the Patent, Design and Trade Mark Act 1965. The Comprehensive Intellectual Property Bill is projected to foster a climate of innovation in Nepal and protect IP, thus creating a business environment attractive enough to lure foreign investors into the country.

“Even though the draft was formulated in 2019, it has not yet been introduced in the parliament as the government perceives it as a less prioritized field. The delay in passing the Intellectual Property Bill has resulted in a situation where foreign investors express apprehension due to the inadequacies in protecting IP. They are concerned about the potential infringement of their IP, which could lead to the loss of competitive advantages,” said Subedi, who was personally involved in the drafting of the bill.

Cases of trademark infringement are rising in Nepal. Annually, the number increases by 30 percent. Many of these infringement activities are happening in the beverage industry. According to Subedi, unauthorized use or replication of IP in Nepal has not been addressed.

With these factors clouding Nepal’s business landscape, foreign investors opt to focus more on distribution rather than local production.

“The absence of a well-structured legal framework, along with unclear requirements and procedures for registration of trademark, has created unnecessary complications and discourage foreign filings,” noted Subedi. “The existing weak Intellectual Property Law has further resulted in a reduced incentive for foreign businesses to invest in Nepal, impacting economic growth and the transfer of valuable knowledge and technology.”

According to an article in The Kathmandu Post, there hasn’t been any progress as far as the draft bill is concerned because of frequent changes in government. This causes the process of getting approvals, gathering inputs and getting the bill passed and enacted to start all over again with every change in government.

- Espie Angelica A. de Leon

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