What does law firm leadership look like to you?
I have always thought that if the focus of leadership is not to create more leaders, we are failing ourselves and the firm. At Saikrishna & Associates we emphasise helping our lawyers emerge as leaders by providing them with space to operate and placing trust in their capabilities. Innovation and participation in building practices can only flow by empowering lawyers at the firm. At the same time, we ingrain a deep sense of ethics and integrity in each team member. Leadership must not only convey the importance of ethics and integrity, but also be seen to live by these principles. Finally, they must demonstrate humility in conduct and respect for all staff.
You are known as an outstanding litigator – how do you put together your courtroom strategies?
I have found that what has contributed best to my skills as a litigator is ensuring, as much as I can, that I do not lose my sense of empathy and ability to listen to every argument. If a litigator does not try to understand and empathise with the arguments made against their client, they will never be able to apply the correct strategy or counter arguments. My courtroom strategy is consequently ultimately based on a plurality of views (ie, of the opposite side as well as of each member of our team, including the youngest associate). This allows me to effectively map each relevant argument and fashion the correct strategy and approach in each litigation.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing your clients right now?
The churn in business in the wake of covid-19 and its impact on the economy is a big challenge. I also see a growing trend across the world for nations to go solo in terms of policy development and somewhat of a reduction in the importance of international treaty obligations. This has the potential to result in domestic legislation that is out of synch with international practice and the subsequent potential of an adverse effect on businesses as well.
Which of your cases has been the most memorable – and why?
I would point to Tata Sons v Greenpeace and the Dolby v Vivo patent litigation.
Greenpeace was memorable for me because it sat right at the intersection of IP rights and free speech. I am particularly interested in the further development of free speech in India and this case was a standout example of the great jurisprudence coming out of the country. Dolby was important because it was an incredibly complex technical case around telecoms-related SEPs, which required me to work really hard and led me to losing my fear of arguing complex technical cases.
What big technical developments are likely to have the biggest impact on the Indian patent landscape?
The introduction of 5G technology will be a watershed moment. Indian businesses keen to utilise 5G technologies in the country will have to navigate an incredibly complex patent terrain, which will require India to balance IP rights with access to technology on fair and reasonable terms in order to ensure that the cost of accessing intellectual property does not result in innovation lagging behind.
Managing Partner [email protected]
Saikrishna Rajagopal is a renowned IP litigator who has worked on a variety of ground-breaking IP disputes in the last two decades. He has written and spoken extensively on a variety of IP topics, both in domestic and international forums. Several domestic and international surveys exploring the IP landscape have rated Mr Rajagopal as a leading individual in the field of intellectual property.
Click here to see his IAM Patent 1000 2021 profile.