Md. Joynal Abdin
The Financial Express on July 06, 2010
Bangladesh earns a significant amount of foreign exchange by exporting Readymade Garments (RMG) to the west with brand name of Wal-Mart, Mark & Spencer, Nike and many more. This is because we are doing a nominal task of stitching. As a result these products are sold as buyers’ brands. On the other hand Bangladesh is an SME dominating economy. Our SME’s are producing a wide variety of products in different important sectors like, light engineering, plastic and rubber, ceramics and glassware, electrical and electronics, leather and leather goods, cosmetics & toiletries, handicrafts and many more items. But most of the cases businesses operate without any formal registration even without a registered trademark. Some SMEs are producing world class goods but in absence of a registered trademark these products are not getting brand status. At the same time as the products or manufacturing processes are not patented so these are copied by their competitors and product quality reduces.
Many companies start with a good opening but lose market share due to unfair competition and copying. As a result brand image is not being building up in SME sector. Trademark is essential for every business entity. Our light engineering sector is producing world class parts, machineries and appliances, but not a single firm has got brand image in the market. Many Bangladeshi companies’ products are deprived of their expected goodwill at home and abroad. So, the government, especially the SME Foundation, will have to take the lead to create awareness among the SMEs for registering trademark and marketing products with their own trademark to establish brand image. Leather and leather goods are earning a significant amount of foreign currency. But if we exclude Apex, Jenny’s then what are the names you can remember? We must come out of this mentality if we really would like to brand Bangladesh. Strong imposition of IP laws is also necessary to stop piracy of IP rights. It will help promote branding. Other than Keya, Tibet, and Aromatic thousands of cosmetic companies are producing cosmetic in Bangladesh. Some of these are producing really quality products but marketing with a foreign pirated brand name. If this is the scenario how we can expect a branded cosmetic company in Bangladesh. The government should take a lead in building awareness among the entrepreneurs that whatever you produce you must have to market it with registered trademark so that local quality products can get brand image at home and abroad.
The government should ensure proper enforcement of IP law (trademark, industrial design, patent, copyright, and trade secrete) to create a competitive environment. A significant amount of handicraft and gift items are being exported every year, perhaps without brand name. Azad products and some others have started their journey in this sector but with very limited product coverage. But, what is about others exporting handicrafts and gift items? This is not the scenario of the stated sectors only. They are producing finest goods but not aware of having a self trademark for building up own brands. SME Foundation can take a lead in awareness creation among the SME owners in different sector about basic issues of IPR and strong imposition of IP laws for branding Bangladesh at home and abroad.