Vedanam, the Editorial wing of CAN foundation, proudly presents our interview series - Compelling Conversations with Cognoscenti.
Given the recent celebration of World IP Day, we reached out to industry experts and academics to bring you their exclusive insights. For episode 1, we speak to Mr. Udayvir Rana, Senior Associate, Remfry & Sagar and INTA Committee Member for The Trademark Reporter, as he recounts his college and work experiences and elaborates on the future of IP.
WORLD IP DAY 2022 – QUESTIONNAIRE FOR MR. UDAYVIR RANA
1. What inspired you to take up intellectual property law as your area of practice? Could you elaborate a little on your experiences from college, specifically with Centre for Intellectual Property and Technology Law (CIPTEL) and the Intellectual Property Society?
I particularly enjoyed lectures taught on the Intellectual Property (‘IP’) law course back in University at Jindal Global Law School. After completing the compulsory course on IP law, I took a keen interest to explore the subject matter further and recognized that IP law is more than just the fundamental concepts of Copyrights, Patents and Trademarks law. Each of the said subject matters have intrinsic facets to them, array of questions of law and are extremely dynamic in nature. As a practicing lawyer, I believe that while having a strong command on the subject matter is important, it is equally vital to keep oneself aware and updated of developments in the field and constantly find ways to self-educate oneself.
I was grateful to be given an opportunity to work with the Centre for Intellectual Property and Technology Law (CIPTEL) and be a member of the Intellectual Property Society. At CIPTEL, the main objective was to research on new and evolving areas of IP law as well as organize seminars/conferences with stalwarts of the IP legal industry i.e. in-house counsels, law firms, members from the judiciary and academicians. On the other hand, as a member of the student run IP Society, we would usually co-author research papers and work in collaboration with CIPTEL. My experience at CIPTEL was extremely enriching, as I got the opportunity to research on relevant issues of law, as well as interact with lawyers specializing in the field of IP law. At conferences/seminars, it was motivating to be an audience member and grasp viewpoints of speakers from both an industry (in-house counsel/company) and a practice (litigation/law firm) perspective.
2. How would you describe your typical day as a senior associate at a tier-1 law firm? What keeps you motivated to stick to intellectual property practice?
It would be fair to wish for a ‘typical day’ when one is working at a law firm! Jokes apart, each day is different, with some more challenging than others. Working with the IP Litigation team, my day usually starts with attending Court hearings followed by heading back to office to work on contentious disputes i.e. advising clients by way of legal opinions, drafting Court pleadings, legal notices, preparing for Court hearings for the following day, etc. In my opinion, it is critical to keep a tab on work deadlines, Court dates, diarize crucial matters, for the same helps in organizing one’s desk in an efficient manner.
Honestly, there are days when one feels more motivated as compared to other days! All in all, my time practicing in the field of IP Litigation has been nothing less than a wonderful experience. Personally, there is no single factor that motivates me to stick to intellectual property practice, rather, it is a culmination of various reasons. Foremost, I believe that that IP is around us at all times - whether it’s a book (copyright) that one’s reading, smartphones (product patent) to connect to others, the tea/coffee machine (process patent) we use everyday or even the clothes we wear (brands that are trademarks), we are consumed with IP at all times. With advancement in technology, digital space, modes of communication and advertising, the scope of IP law and protection of IP rights is constantly evolving. Hence, being a lawyer specializing in the field of IP, for me, the subject matter of IP law has never been mundane, and keeps me motivated to brainstorm and learn more and more and apply the same to my matters.
3. What are your views on internships and engaging in extracurriculars during college and its translation in your current role? We often hear that one must explore all areas rather than stick to one specific area. Would you agree?
Doing internships and engaging in extracurriculars during college plays a pivotal role to help one understand the field of law one is interested to pursue a career in. Based on my experience, while studying IP law viz. statutes, case laws was important; it was equally important for me to learn procedural application of the said laws. Subsequent to having completed the compulsory course on IP law and having a keen interest in the field, I took a conscious decision to seek internships with IP boutique law firms as well as choose extra subjects in the sphere of IP law i.e. Entertainment law, interface between IP and Competition law, drafting IP clinic course and jurisprudential perspective on IP law. Interning with IP boutique law firms primarily involved research and drafting work, interacting with lawyers, attending court hearings, which helped me gain insight as to how a career in the said field feels like - an out-of-the-classroom perspective. The additional subjects I undertook, helped me to expand my knowledge base which eventually played a key role in helping me decide which field of IP law I was most interested to pursue a career in.
I think internships and engaging in extracurriculars gives students a glimpse into how it feels to pursue a career in a particular area of law. Coming to your question, as law students, we study several different law subjects, and while it is important to explore all areas, a student may also opt towards focussing her/his career trajectory towards a niche filed of law towards the final year of law school. Working with a litigating lawyer, would at any rate, expose students to several areas of law. Of course, there is no hard and fast rule for the same, and students should explore all areas to find out what catches their attention and is enjoyable for them! At the end of the day, being a lawyer, if one has a genuine interest in a specific field of law and enjoys working in the said field, work would not feel like a ‘job’ per se.
4. You still take an active interest in writing and editorial responsibilities, such as your role as a member of the INTA Trademark Reporter. How do you balance these with your role as a litigator?
Like I said above, apart from day-to-day work, it is equally important for me to keep myself abreast of recent developments in IP policy and jurisprudence. Insofar as balance is concerned, during weekends, I try to take out time to read recent orders/judgments passed by Courts pertaining to IP law, surf online legal blogs and read perspectives of different authors, etc. I am grateful to be selected as a member of the INTA Trademark Reporter committee for the 2022-23 term, and also work with the Media team at my Firm. Writing articles and posting updates helps me zone off from ‘work’ per se, and at the same time motivates me to educate myself further in the field. While it is neigh impossible to be aware of each and every development, a habitual effort in the said direction only helps towards adding to one’s knowledge!
5. As you well know, the World Intellectual Property Day 2022’s theme focuses on IP and Youth innovating for a Better Future. You, being a young lawyer yourself, have been involved in several recent high-profile litigations and interact with several people from the field. In your expertise, what do you think are some recent major concerns in intellectual property law?
Honestly, I do not think they are any “major” concerns in the field of intellectual property law in India. In fact, in the recent years, there has been an upward trend in the number of IP filings across IP offices in India, be it Copyrights, Patents or Trademarks. Further, with the launch of the National Intellectual Property Rights Policy by the Union Cabinet in 2016, the creation of the Intellectual Property Rights Division Rules, 2021 by the High Court of Delhi, I believe that the future of IP law in India is promising. The Hon’ble Judges of the Delhi High Court with comments from various stakeholders have brought into effect the Intellectual Property Division Rules, 2021 including setting up of specialized IP Divisions in Courts, streamlined procedure, case management guidelines, which I opine should be treated as footprint by other Courts in India to ensure uniformity and efficiency in the domain of IP litigation.
Well, there is always room for improvement, I think that the two facets that come to my mind are “education” and “monetization”. India is a country having a population of over 1.4 billion, and the talents of several individuals does not always culminate into protectable property i.e. goods/services /processes etc. as most individuals are unaware of the protection and recognition that can be afforded to such creativity/talent. Moreover, I feel that access towards protecting one’s intellectual property viz. filing of trademarks, copyright, patents, geographical indications, etc. is limited. Hence, to mark an increase in the number of domestic filings in the country, I believe more IP offices can be set up in different cities as well.
6. How would you describe creativity? As a follow up to question 5, how do you think the youth can contribute in dealing with emerging issues of intellectual property law and maintaining a balance between protecting one’s creation and public welfare?
Creativity for me is an idea that has been expressed in a tangible medium to provide solutions, entertainment, knowledge, and experiences to the people across the world. To protect creativity, promotion of intellectual property is a must. As I said, both “education” and “monetization” play a key role towards innovating for a better future. Encouraging youth to express their creativity, create innovations, brainstorm ideas and execute the same, as well as educating them on the process of protecting such creativity through securing rights in IP, would lead to better future.
I do not believe that protecting one’s creation and public welfare are necessarily at two ends of the spectrum. Yes, in certain areas such as compulsory licensing of drugs in the healthcare industry, public welfare issues do arise. In such scenarios, maintaining a balance vis-à-vis monopolistic rights versus public welfare (though difficult) is not impossible, and the Government can play a pivotal role to ensure the IP right holders are adequately compensated. Overall, I think protecting one’s creation and reaping benefits therefrom (statutory period) ultimately does strengthen the economy in the longer run.
7. From your practice of intellectual property law, do you notice a difference in regimes or attitudes of lawyers across the globe? Given technological innovations and information centric society, do you believe that in the near future (and due to the efforts of youngsters), these differences would grow or fade?
Honestly, I don’t see much difference in the regimes or attitudes of lawyers across the globe. Of course, the legal practice and procedure is different for each country, with some countries having a more efficient IP filing system, less pendency/backlog of files etc. However, most countries are part of international IP treaties – Paris convention, Berne Convention, Rome Convention, etc. and more and more countries are acceding to such international treaties. Insofar as India is concerned, in my 5 years of being part of the profession, I feel there has been a massive improvement in the functioning of IP offices i.e. hybrid system of hearings, digitized filings, minimal documentation, reasoned orders, etc. All in all, the IP legal sphere is only evolving, expanding, and is a great opportunity for young innovators, artists, entrepreneurs and law students.
8. One way in which IP and Youth can work in tandem is when more young lawyers take an interest in Intellectual property law. What would your advice/message be to any law students or professionals looking to explore the area of intellectual property law? Any last words regarding the theme of World IP Day 2022?
India has more than 50% of its population below the age of 25 years, so clearly, the youth is a key party towards future development of the country. The theme of World IP Day 2022 “IP and Youth: Innovating for a Better Future”, hence, assumes more relevance for a country like ours. Students, professionals (be it the field of technology, arts, science) ought to be made aware of how their inventions, works, ideas etc. can be legally protected. For young lawyers, including me, I feel that there is an onus on us to work in collaboration with IP creators on one hand, and policymakers on the other, so as to strive towards a better future where government policies encourage creativity, that would ultimately lead to a development and growth in the right direction.