What are your greatest professional achievements to date and why?
My journey over the past 32 years has been an interesting and satisfying one. I joined the patent profession in an era when people in India were totally unaware of patents; in contrast, today there is a real buzz around patents and innovation. An accomplishment that gives me a great deal of satisfaction is to have been a part of this evolution from the beginning. The continuous interaction between industry leaders, domain experts, my team, and governmental and international organisations has changed the patent landscape in India, and I am proud to have been a part of this change.
I also derive a sense of satisfaction from having mentored numerous professionals, given visibility to patents and played a role in placing India on the patent world map. Developing and mentoring a team of 100 individuals, including 40 lawyers and patent professionals, is another achievement that I feel proud of.
At an administrative level, we have worked on developing processes to streamline patent-related timelines, reduce wastage of time and improve efficiency, including moving everything to digital. Creating and improving a programme that gave the company high recognition (as an expert in its field and in new ways of working) is yet another professional achievement.
How do you stay abreast of the latest technological developments?
There is no substitute to reading. As a patent attorney, I read a lot on cases concerning the latest technologies and keep abreast of the latest innovations. This also requires a lot of background research. Keeping up to date on the latest legal developments is another important part of my job and a key professional requirement. Attending conferences, taking part in seminars and networking with experts across the globe is a crucial part of the process. It is also recommended to follow some professional online courses.
How have client demands changed over the course of your career, and how has your practice adapted to this?
I do feel that clients have become more demanding over the years, which has helped us to sharpen our skills and focus on the outcome of cases.
What are the most important nuances for international rights holders to be aware of before pursuing litigation in India?
First and foremost, the perception needs to change. Patent prosecution and patent portfolio management are as important as litigation in India. For a successful litigation, there must be a great deal of emphasis on, and investment in, securing patent protection. This is gradually changing. Having a pre-litigation strategy and carrying out a review of one’s patent portfolio is a key prerequisite before initiating litigation in India. One must also explore the possibility of pre-suit mediation. In addition, one should approach the courts at the earliest time possible, rather than delay bringing a lawsuit, so as to get immediate interim relief.
As we hopefully emerge from the pandemic, what changes to the industry and/or working practices do you think are here to stay?
While remote working is very efficient and convenient for both organisations and employees, connecting face to face is extremely important given the complexities and varied technologies that we deal with in our profession. Therefore, we have adopted a hybrid working model: three days in the office and two days working from home per week. The in-person attendance of three days a week is fixed and compulsory for all. This gives us the best of both worlds, ensuring client satisfaction without compromising on the quality of our work output.
Senior Partner and Head of Department (Patents & Designs) [email protected]
With over 31 years of practice, and ranked highly by leading IP publications, Archana Shanker manages an extensive portfolio of patents – from technical to mechanical and medical devices – for a wide array of clients across the globe. A firm believer in effective prosecution being the backbone of a robust IP enforcement strategy, Ms Shanker is the go-to person for patent protection and enforcement including prosecution, pre-grant and post-grant oppositions, appeals, revocations, plant variety protection, while also providing straightforward advice in contentious matters.