Deceptive Marketing: Trademark Laws in Pakistan

Consumers in Pakistan are susceptible and at serious risk of falling prey to deceptive confusion pertaining to the origin, and quality of different products due to the strikingly similar trademarks, logos, packaging and labeling of the products.

Consumer Protection Laws of Pakistan strictly prohibits the fraudulent use of another’s trademark, firm name, product labeling or packaging.

The continuous use of unauthorized trademarks by many outlets/retailers in Pakistan has the potential to inflict harm upon the goodwill and business interests of the many legitimate outlets and cause confusion among many customers through dissemination of false and misleading information related to character, properties, origin and quality of products via unlawful use of similar/identical logos and trademarks of different luxury brands.

It is in the interest of the general public and fair competition in the market that the outlets/retailers in Pakistan should immediately be stopped to market their products, in an unfair and misleading manner and be encouraged to resort to the marketing practices which are transparent and give consumers/customers true and correct information related to the product. Philosophy governing the trademarks jurisprudence is the ‘use it, or lose it’ principle.

Once a trade mark had been honestly adopted by a trade, the mark would not always remain the property of the said trader, and he would remain the owner of the mark, as long as, he was using the mark in course of trade and having abandoned the use of the trade mark, he would eventually lose all rights to the mark.

The Trade Mark Ordinance 2001, The Trade Mark Act 1940 and The Trade Mark Rules 1963 was aimed to arrest the modes of unfair competition in Pakistan, however it has been noted that many outlets/retailers in Pakistan are unceasingly, fraudulently using the identical trademarks and logos of different luxury brands, for marketing purposes, without any lawful permission, authorization or consent.

Consumer Protection Laws of Pakistan strictly prohibits the fraudulent use of another’s trademark, firm name, product labeling or packaging.

Such unlawful acts by the outlets/retailers in Pakistan are not only a violation of Trade Mark ordinance 2001, Trade Mark Act 1940, Trade Mark Rules 1963 and other Intellectual Property laws of Pakistan, but also constitutes as false, unfair, deceptive and misleading marketing practices and such unlawful acts are capable of harming the consumers and business interests of the other legitimate retailers/merchandise in Pakistan.

The practices of unlawfully using similar and identical trademarks also constitutes an act of deceptive and misleading representation and marketing practices within the meaning of the Consumer Protection laws of Pakistan i.e Sindh Consumer Protection Act, Punjab Consumer Protection Act 2015, K.P Consumer Protection Act, Islamabad Consumer Protection Act etc.

It is worth mentioning that as per the aforementioned consumer protection laws of Pakistan, a false and misleading representation includes any false statement, in connection with the service or product, whether by omission or commission, orally or in writing or by chalking on walls or through sign boards or by distributing of pamphlets.

It is very important for the consumers to understand the concept of deceptively similar” use of logos and trademarks. The use of the similar logo and trademarks, with the identical colours, design and style does not only amounts to a breach of Trade Mark ordinance 2001, Trade Mark Act 1940, Trade Mark Rules 1963 but also amounts to an absolute violation of Consumer Protection Laws by way of false and misleading representations within the meaning of Consumer Protection Laws of Pakistan.

The test of “deceptively similar” product, under section 2(xii) of The Trademark Ordinance is that “such rear resemblance between the trademarks or logos, which is likely to deceive or confuse the common consumer”.

Astonishingly, the practice of parasitic copying is also very common in Pakistan. The copying of the overall layout, design, size shape and colour scheme of any trademark or logo constitutes as parasitic copying which also constitutes as unfair, misleading and deceptive marketing practice, hence an absolute violation of Trade Mark ordinance 2001, Trade Mark Act 1940, Trade Mark Rules 1963 and a further violation of the aforementioned Consumers Protection laws of Pakistan.

It has been noted that there are many retailers in Pakistan operating as an official retailers/merchandise of different luxury brands. These retailers are unlawfully using official logos and trademarks of different luxury brands outside their outlet/shops and on the social media pages, to cause confusion in common consumer’s mind. These outlets are uninterruptedly selling out-dated and smuggled products, with high prices, which is a continuous contravention of the Consumer Protection laws of Pakistan.

It is pertinent to mention that it is a well-established law, in terms of many reported cases, that the practice of unlawful use of similar trademarks and logos constitutes as deceptive marketing which accordingly falls within the jurisdiction of the Consumer Courts. The deceptive marketing practices have a direct impact on the public at large hence the presiding officers of the Consumer Courts must encourage consumers to come forward and file cases regarding the issues of deceptive marketing, by way of unlawful use of trademark and logos.

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1 Comment

  1. Mukesh says

    A well researched and knowledgeable article, and indeed a need of hour for those deceptive marketeers…..

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