The registration of intellectual property (IP) rights by local companies in Bangladesh is on the rise, with companies becoming increasingly conscious of brand rights and trademarks against piracy.

The Department of Patents, Designs and Trademarks (DPDT), an agency under the industries ministry, issued 759 trademark registrations to the local companies in 2012, up 86.48 percent year-on-year.

“The rate at which businesses sought trademark registration in the country rose drastically in the last couple of years, thanks to a boom in the domestic manufacturing and services sectors due to drop in imports,” said AK Azad, former president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

“They are trying to capture the domestic market and give brand identities to their products,” he added.

But industry insiders claim the rate of trademark registration by local companies is still poor.

Though Bangladesh has witnessed an expansion of business activities with the growth of the economy over the last couple of decades, most companies have not protected their IP rights.

Only 1,775 trademark registrations were issued by the IP right administrator to the local companies in the last five years. “Lack of awareness and poor understanding of IP laws are the key reasons behind the lower registrations,” said Mohammad Sabur Khan, president of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

A company should focus on IP rights for two reasons – establishing a brand and getting legal support against piracy, he said.

The IP right is one of the most valuable assets when it comes to commercial transactions as it provides an exclusive ownership to goods and services, said Mohammad Yadnan Rafique Rossy, an advocate of Amir & Amir Law Associates. “It would be very difficult to regain the IP right if a company lost it due to failure to register in the first place,” he said.

The registration of patents and industrial designs by local companies also increased significantly last year.

In 2012, DPDT issued 14 patent rights certificates to local companies, up from the 6 issued in 2011, and 1,000 industrial designs, up 62.6 percent from 2011.

To generate a mass awareness on IP laws, the government will launch three workshops in the next two months, said Mohammad Abdur Rouf, registrar of the DPDT.

“We will do workshops in Chitagong, Rajshahi and Dhaka with all the stakeholders to raise awareness,” he said. Trademarks can be registered in 45 classes including 10 service categories.

It takes around 14 months to complete the entire process of trademarks registrations, said Rouf.

“But it will come down to three to six months once the department is automated.”