Yashvardhan Rana on LLM in IPR from QMUL and IPR prosecution and enforcement in India

Yashvardhan Rana is an Intellectual Property Lawyer with a particular focus on IP prosecution – from registrability analysis and risk management to providing providing legal opinion on the use, adoption and registrability of trademarks to be launched by by Fortune 500 companies as well as top FMCG’s in India. He also advises on trade mark protection strategies, copyright issues and specific assignments relating to Design Law, certain aspects of strategic brand management and advisory, IP auditing and due diligence to portfolio management, transactional advice and agreement drafting, permitted user/registered user recordals and other procedural compliances. He is based out of New Delhi and is a member of Bar Council of Delhi, Delhi High Court Bar Association, APAA and INTA. In January, 2020, he was appointed as a Member of INTA sub-committee – Editor, The Trade Mark Reporter Committee and in 2019, he was listed in the Top 50 Emerging IP Players Award worldwide by The IPR Gorilla, 2nd Edition held in Dubai. He has also authored several articles on Intellectual Property Law and Practice which are published in leading blogs, websites, journals and magazines. He has been interviewed by EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador Nikita Jaitly.

  1. Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your educational qualifications.

My name is Yashvardhan Rana. I am a second generation lawyer who completed his schooling from Modern School, Barakhamba Road, New Delhi. I am a 2013 graduate from Symbiosis Law School, Pune and have been enrolled with the Bar Council of Delhi since the year 2013. I have also attained a post graduate LL.M. degree in Intellectual Property Law from Queen Mary University of London in 2016. Being fortunate enough, I also undertook a certificate course on International Commercial Litigation and Arbitration from the London School of Economics and Political Science back in the year 2013 right after completing my undergraduate degree. I am presently a part of the Trademarks, Copyright and Design Prosecution team at Inttl Advocare, Noida, India.

  1. Please tell us a bit about your law school experience. 

I wish I could travel back in time to be with my friends with whom I cherish fond memories. At the risk of stating the obvious, I would say I had the time of my life at my law school. Not only because Symbiosis Law School, Pune is an institution par excellence but especially because of the the diverse culture, unrestricted environment and the open-mindedness to learn and unlearn which helped us to assimilate over a period of 5 years, was second to none. I was an introvert before college; however, this place played an important role in shaping my individuality, ethics, and set of values which I hold onto until today. I particularly savor the amiable camaraderie and the bond we shared with our collaborative efforts through the chaos of assignment submissions and last minute exam preparations. I owe a lot of credit to these beautiful people for what I am today.

  1. What motivated you to pursue an LLM in Intellectual Property Law? Which colleges did you have in mind for the same? What must be kept in mind vis-à-vis colleges, while applying?

The world of brands and logos have always fascinated me since my childhood as I’ve seen my father patronising various well-known brands from multifarious departmental stores from every nook and corner all over the world on our summer vacations (as he does not like to shop in India). This routine was followed on every vacation that he took us to and I accidentally got immersed and it had further captivated me to dwell into the world of brands like never before. On another note, I also used to read up his case files at night in our house chamber of high stake matters pertaining to trade mark law almost twice or thrice a week in my college holidays. Since I also had an inclination to become a lawyer from my boyhood days and Intellectual Property Law was and has been booming in India, I chose IPR as my specialisation and further wanted to create a niche for myself in this ever-intriguing field of law.

I applied to LSE, UCL, Kings College London and QMUL as I had always wanted to study in London being the commercial hub of the world (and also being familiar with the place since childhood). Luckily, I got through all of them, however, I chose to pursue an LL.M. in Intellectual Property Law from Queen Mary as the IP modules they offered catered to my needs and were being taught by the most renowned IP professors in the world back then. We also had joint classes for our Trade Mark Law module being taught by renowned professors and practicing lawyers along with the students from UCL, LSE and Kings at the Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Lincoln Inn Fields (belongs to QMUL) all under one roof.

  1. Can you tell us a little about the application process? What do you believe are quintessential factors which might often be overlooked by students?

Applying to an LL.M., whether in UK, US or elsewhere, requires some amount of dedication to craft and in connecting the dots. The key is just to start early (by early I mean – at the very beginning) in the admission cycle – get the referees to send in their recommendation letters (from a notable professor, judge or your college principal – would go a long way) and the universities in India to send in the transcripts etc. After that, it’s about writing a solid statement of purpose. I think the SOP requires painting a vision about your future and how well you are aware on how to tread the path of endless opportunities without blinking your eye. Also, writing an SOP requires demonstration of a certain skill set, aptitude and coherence to be able to delineate and sell what you envision for in about 2-3 pages.

Students with high grades often think that they can get through any university in the world that they apply to. This is certainly not the case – it might help your application to pass a certain stage but renowned law schools these days look for all-rounders and passionate human beings (not just academically but in extra-curricular, sports, co-curricular activities, contribution to the society, your journey as a human being etc.). So, my advise would be to work on developing an overall personality not just catering selfishly to create your own personal brand or perception in the market but focus on building a sense of purpose – on how you contribute to the legal fraternity and the society at large.

  1. What are your views on pursuing an LLM after working for a few years? Now that you’ve been a working professional for the past few years, do you believe prior experience provides a competitive edge over freshers?

One should opt for further studies once an individual amasses adequate knowledge about the rudiments of law in his/her area of interest or has gained at least a limited amount of experience in the area one needs to specialize in. One should realise that they should aim to build up a sense of intellectual ability and arm themselves with the various techniques of analysis and develop a sense of multi-disciplinary approach in a diverse environment that would in turn help them grow and broaden their perspective. That is what they should yearn to happen and become a part of a university to encounter the best minds engaged in immutable discussions whilst intrigued in understanding not just the theoretical foundations of law and society but also its new and emerging trends.

Prior practical experience along with an LL.M. degree does make it much more smoother and gives you an edge in interviews (largely depends on the policy and outlook of the firm that your’e applying to), however, I tend to believe that if you’ve got the rigour, discipline, right amount of attitude, persistence, certain skill sets that are in demand and the willingness to learn and unlearn – nothing can stop you from achieving your goal.

  1. As an IP lawyer, you also advice on procedural compliance. What are your thoughts on the increasing need for IP compliance in India? 

My views on the increasing need for IP compliance in India are as follows:

Firstly – Contents and behaviour compliance. This type of IP compliance mainly means that what companies “say and do” shall conform to relevant laws and regulations. First, with respect to content, various information issued by the companies (such as advertisements, press releases, statements, product manuals and other promotional materials), and various types of identifications (such as product packaging and labels, trademarks, patent labels, various certification marks for quality, safety and places of origin, etc.), shall be consistent with the facts and not mislead the public or cause adverse social impact. 

Secondly, the contents must comply with relevant mandatory regulations (e.g., the “®” symbol cannot be used for unregistered trademarks.

Thirdly – Behaviour compliance. It means that companies should take or refrain from certain acts in accordance with laws, such as those specified under the relevant statutes.

Fourthly – Rules and regulations compliance. This type of compliance requires companies to establish certain internal rules, regulations and procedures related to IP rights such as IP protection rules for e-commerce platforms, cybersecurity and data privacy protection systems, and research and development data management systems in accordance with relevant laws and regulations. Any company that fails to do so may bear corresponding legal risks.

And most importantly – Awareness – Start-up, entrepreneurs need to realize that Intellectual Property (IP) is amongst the largest asset class held by any business. To ensure that Start-ups do not need to get into the hassle of changing names at a later stage, as would mean loss of recognition and recall value of the brand, they must conduct a thorough pre-filing trademark search in order to assess/determine whether the trade name, trademark or tag-line is currently being used or would be confusingly similar to any other existing business in the market.

  1. What motivated you to publish a book on IPR? What is the primary focus of the book?

The book was prepared/written as part of a course on certificate course on research methodology I undertook back in the year 2013. I was awarded a Gold Medal for the same. The book was launched by eminent personalities like Dr. Subramanian SwamyShri Prashant BhushanShri Harish SalveShri Shailesh Gandhi and His Highness Sheikh Dr. Abdul Aziz bin Ali Al Nuaimi.

The mainstay idea of the book was to provide all the relevant material supplementing to the connotation of a gamut of enlightening facts and varied perspectives about Intellectual Property Law prevalent in the modern developing society reaching out in stipulating the multi-faceted role that individuals or institutions have to play in shaping the untold story of the future in providing the framework to foster new products and cultivate new inventions that are instrumental in creating the next generation of jobs, investments and growth.

  1. What do you think are the biggest hurdles in IP Prosecution and Enforcement in India?

There are many but to name a few for the sake of brevity, I point out some solutions to the hurdles we face today. They are as follows:

– Stricter penal provisions, No more liberal registration of generic names, Time bound hearings in a matter – must be decreed in one or two hearings, Ensure that commercial disputes are decided expeditiously, Appointment and training of IP specialists as judges in multifarious forums, Developing a mechanism and Ensuring that further infringement of rights does not occur while the lawsuit proceeds through different stages, Quick seizures of counterfeit goods through a criminal action, Streamlining of formalities, Long Timelines to be shortened, Incorporation of AI and other technological advancements post COVID era etc.

  1. Any advice to IP enthusiasts?

Most of them out there know more than me. So I would just like to reach out and use this platform to tell them a few things – Don’t chase people. Be yourself, do your own thing and work hard. Everything will follow. Your degree is just a piece of paper, your education is seen in your behaviour. Keep a positive mind and find and surround yourself with the people out there who have the same mission as you.

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