Your firm was founded by your grandfather in 1923 and will soon celebrate its centenary. What led you to join the profession, and what advice do you have for anyone considering setting up their own practice?
My grandfather was both an artist and an inventor and the firm’s focus has always been to protect the interests of creators. My belief that intellectual property is akin to a human right is what led me to join the family profession in 1979. The central philosophy of my career – and that of the firm – has been to act only for creators and innovators, even though this came at the cost of refusing prestigious clients and losing business opportunities.
My advice to anyone considering setting up a law firm would be to:
- be able to take risks and handle difficult situations;
- develop first-class domain knowledge;
- recruit wisely;
- have a vision and commercial plan in place to ensure sustainability;
- have the highest ethics;
- develop a deep appreciation for human psychology and nature – a must to hold together skilled colleagues and deal with clients; and
- develop a culture that fosters innovation and respects creativity.
Could you share what Anand and Anand is doing to future-proof itself?
To achieve our vision of “360 degrees IP”, we have always been committed to pushing the envelope when it comes to bringing about substantive and procedural changes to ensure stronger IP protection.
The firm has a Continuous Legal Education Programme – involving its own attorneys, engineers and external domain experts – and research projects to keep abreast of technological developments and resulting legal issues.
More and more clients are looking for strategic directions to grow their business by harnessing their intellectual property; to ensure this, we are looking at creating newer models centred around the digital environment and the internet. The firm also has a strategic partnership in Mumbai focused on media and entertainment law, so that we can provide holistic support to our clients.
As a managing partner, do you give any directives to your team on how to maintain client relationships and/or add value for clients?
Our number one principle is to give clients an honest opinion and manage their expectations realistically. Other advice to my team is to focus on developing their domain expertise and think outside the box to provide the most innovative and cost-effective solutions. I also encourage my team to speed up solutions and control time. Nevertheless, our cardinal rule - which is set in stone - is that clients must be treated humanely, and not as means to make money.
If you could change one thing about patent policy in India, what would it be, and do you think that it is likely to happen?
The Indian patent system has developed well in recent years, with good protection being afforded to pharma and telecoms companies.
One thing that needs to change, however, is the protracted pre-grant opposition period under the present patent regime. Anyone wishing to file a pre-grant opposition may file one from the date on which the application is published in India until the date of its grant. This gives an opportunity to unscrupulous generic companies to file multiple pre-grant oppositions at various stages of the process to delay the grant of the patent.
Although a change of this nature would necessitate a legislative enactment, Indian courts can establish guidelines to safeguard against such misuse and streamline the process for faster disposal of pre-grant oppositions. We are hopeful that this will come about soon. With the new Intellectual Property Division at the Delhi High Court, we are seeing a great spate of positive outcomes for IP owners, with the court exercising tighter control over the functioning of the patent and trademark offices.
Which emerging technologies are currently having the biggest impact on your clients – and how is this shaping your practice?
Recent advancements in the field of AI, big data, Internet of things, metaverse, blockchain and non-fungible tokens have thrown up myriad problems, such as ownership, protection and enforcement of AI-generated works, rights protection and enforcement in the metaverse, data privacy and cybersecurity. To be well equipped to support our clients in view of the challenges posed by these technological advancements, we regularly interact with domain experts who help demystify the technology. Moreover, we have always had a mix of legal, technical and economic expertise, which is crucial to continue providing cutting-edge solutions in today’s highly competitive environment.
Managing Partner and Head of Litigation [email protected]
Pravin Anand is a recipient of the Award of Merit of the International Association for the Protection of IP, INTA’s President’s Award, recognised as an Influential and Inspiring Leader of All Time by the World IP Forum in 2022, the most innovative lawyer for Asia-Pacific by The Financial Times and was inducted into the IAM IP Hall of Fame in 2022. He has appeared in more than 2,500 cases in over 43 years of practice as an IP lawyer and is credited with strengthening India’s IP jurisprudence.