Bangladesh - Country Commercial Guide
Protecting Intellectual Property

Provides advice on IPR protection, including information on the registration of patents and trademarks.

Last published date: 2021-09-17

Overview

Counterfeit goods are readily available in Bangladesh.  The government has limited resources to enforce intellectual property rights (IPR) protection.  Many U.S. firms, including film studios, fast moving consumer goods manufacturers, pharmaceutical products, the apparel sector, and software firms, have reported systemic violations of their intellectual property rights.  Investors note police are willing to investigate counterfeit goods producers when informed but are unlikely to initiate independent investigations due to insufficient enforcement resources. 

U.S. Government Engagement

The United States and Bangladesh engage on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) primarily through the U.S.-Bangladesh Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA).  In addition, the U.S. and Bangladesh continue to conduct dialogues through various fora and work together toward supporting Bangladesh in developing a stronger IP ecosystem as it seeks to graduate from its status as a Least Developed Country (LDC) by 2026.  The U.S. Government also interacts with the Department of Patent, Design, and Trademarks (DPDT); Customs; Police; and Judicial officials, as well as industry organizations and the American Chamber of Commerce to discuss ways to strengthen the IP enforcement ecosystem in Bangladesh.

Legislative Climate

The Government of Bangladesh has taken several steps towards developing its IP system.  Below are some highlights and recent developments:

  • The Bangladesh Cabinet approved a Patent bill in 2021 to bring the country’s IPR protections into compliance with its obligations before the World Trade Organization (WTO) once it graduates from LDC status, which is anticipated in 2026.  Adoption of the bill awaits parliamentary approval.
  • The Bangladesh Government enacted a Copyright Law in July 2000 (with minor amendments in 2005), a Trademarks Act in 2009 (amended in 2015), and the Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act in 2013. 
  • In 2012, the DPDT, in partnership with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) initiated a discussion on National IP policy and the same got implemented in 2018. See https://dpdt.portal.gov.bd/site/page/e99a643b-6362-4717-b707-237baa4724af/-

Challenges

The legislative and regulatory climate in Bangladesh is challenging to navigate, particularly as it relates to enforcement, as illustrated by the hurdles referenced below:

  • Poor or inconsistent coordination and integration, as well as insufficient legal frameworks between/among different enforcement agencies.
  • Lack of awareness about Intellectual Property issues amongst enforcement agencies and regulatory bodies.
  • Large quantities of medicines and products from other sectors are being smuggled into Bangladesh  parallel to legal imports.  Because many medications need to be temperature-controlled and must meet other quality parameters even during transport, smuggled medicines can lose efficacy and stability and tend to become less effective, and thus a serious health concern.  Because goods come through both legal and illegal channels it is often not possible to ascertain authenticity or the origin of these goods.
  • There is also a growing threat of illegal exports of pharmaceutical products from Bangladesh to other countries in South and Southeast Asia where the products are covered by patent protection.  These illegal exports present significant challenges to innovative companies, not only by violating intellectual property rights, impacting revenues, and damaging reputations, but also in the significant risk falsified products present to public health and consumer safety.
  • The quality of ”copy molecules” introduced into the market is a major health concern because there is no bio equivalence requirement, a standard test, or requirement to prove copied molecules meet levels of effectiveness and potency as compared to the original product.
  • Law enforcement agencies such as the Bangladesh Police, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), Customs Intelligence, and VAT Intelligence have a legal duty to enforce various provisions related to IPR or direct IPR infringements. However, they do not have appropriate resources to give the appropriate attention or priority to execute complaints filed by IP rights holders.  Accordingly, enforcement actions such as raids and seizures become very costly, time consuming, and often nonproductive. 

In any foreign market companies should consider several general principles for effective protection of their intellectual property.  For background, here is a link to a Department of Commerce article on Protecting Intellectual Property and Stopfakes.gov for more resources.

IP Attaché Contact South Asia

John Cabeca

U.S. Intellectual Property Counselor for South Asia

U.S. Embassy New Delhi

24, Kasturba Gandhi Marg

New Delhi – 110001

Office Phone: +91 11-2347-2000

Email: john.cabeca@trade.gov

 

Shilpi Jha

Senior Commercial Specialist and Intellectual Property Advisor for South Asia

U.S. Embassy New Delhi

24, Kasturba Gandhi Marg

New Delhi – 110001

Office Phone: +91 11-2347-2000 x 2334

Email: shilpi.jha@trade.gov

For additional information regarding intellectual property rights, please visit the “Protection of Property Rights” sub-section of the Investment Climate Statement Section.