With over 57 rivers and vast rich fertile flat lands, Bangladesh is a lush country that is ripe with opportunities. The country’s location in South Asia provides Bangladesh with convenient access to the international market.

Bangladesh’s economy has grown roughly six percent per year since 2005. More than half of the country’s GDP is generated through the services sector. On the other hand, garments, the backbone of Bangladesh’s industrial sector, accounted for more than 80 percent of total exports in recent years. Recent improvements to energy infrastructure, including the start of liquefied natural gas imports in 2018, represent a major step forward in resolving a key growth bottleneck. As the consumer market grows in Bangladesh, middle class and affluent populations with rising disposable incomes draw more foreign brands and increased incentives for investment.

Assessing for potential intellectual property risks and making use of the local legal protections available are important steps to take during the market entry planning and relocation stage. This includes a thorough examination of the local legal and compliance environment in the investment destination and possible exposure to new market risks, such as threats to intellectual property due to bad-faith trademarks etc. 

The country maintains a relatively comprehensive regulatory and legislative system for the protection of trademarks, patents, designs, and copyright. In order to have an effective protection strategy, all intellectual property rights must be registered and enforced in Bangladesh, under local laws. Bangladesh is a member of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. Furthermore, Bangladesh is a signatory of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement.

The Trademark Act of 2009 and Trademark Rules of 2015 lay down the foundation for all trademark matters in the country. The Trademark Office in Bangladesh follows the 10th edition of the Nice Classification and accepts only single class applications. Trademark examination is performed on formal, absolute, and relative grounds and oppositions may be filed after two months from publication date. The protection term for a trademark is seven years from filing date and is renewable for successive periods of 10 years each. As for use, trademarks are vulnerable to a cancellation action by any interested party if there has been no effective use of the mark for a period of five consecutive years preceding the date of filing for cancellation. An extension of time is possible for filing counter oppositions and responding to office actions.

As for patents, the laws in force are the Patents and Designs Act of 1911 and the Patents and Designs Rules of 1933. Priority rights may be claimed, and given that Bangladesh is not a member of the PCT, nationals do not have the option of filing with the PCT Receiving Office for international protection or for international publication of their patents within the PCT contracting states.

Bangladesh remains a country with high aspirations that welcomes foreign investments. A healthy balance between the latter and local development is bound to be beneficial for the country’s own growth. The proper application and enforcement of IP laws should help Bangladesh become more of an innovative hub in South Asia and lead to this required healthy financial balance.

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