In conversation with Sanjai Gandhi, Senior IPR Attorney, Chennai

He is currently the President of Intellectual Property Rights Attorney Association, Chennai, India, and IPR Practitioner since 2000 [patent, copyright, trade mark, geographical indication and other intellectual property rights (IPRs)]. He has been Additional Government Pleader at High Court of Madras between 2011-2018.

He is IPR Educationalist and Speaker, IPR Author, Head – IPR, Tamil Chamber of Commerce and a Senior Counsel at Cholamandal IP Law Firm. He has written a book in English titled Arts and Crafts of India: Registered GI Products. To spread awareness about IPRs, he has penned a book titled Intellectual Property in Tamil. He has represented India at the “IPR Training Course for Lawyers” (IPLA) organised by the Japan Patent Office, December 2012. He represented India in “International Follow-up Seminar” in Bangkok organised by Asia-Pacific Industrial Property Center and Japan Institute of Promoting Invention and Innovation 2013.

He has been interviewed by Divya Chowdhary Vattikutti who is currently pursuing law from DSNLU.

  1. To begin with, if I may request you to please share with our readers something about yourself, your journey in the profession and your early years.

I am currently the President of Intellectual Property Rights Attorney Association, Chennai, India, and IPR Practitioner since 2000. I have been Additional Government Pleader at High Court of Madras in the year 2011 to 2018. What I believe is, we must absolutely protect what is ours. In a country blessed with such unique products, we must ensure that certain qualities and characteristics unique to a place must not be forgotten or usurped by outside vested interest. And this thought is something what kept me going and thriving. As a Geographical Indications Attorney, I handled various registration of various goods such as Kancheepuram Silk Sarees, Bhavani Jamakkalam, Madurai Sungudi Sarees, Thanjavur Painting, Kovai Kora Cotton Sarees, Salem Venpattu, Toda Embroidery, Pattamadai Pai, Salem Silk, Arani Silk, Thanjavur Doll, Eathomozhi Tall Coconut, Tangaliya Shawl and Thanjavur Veenai successfully under Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act (GI) Act. I am also an IPR Educationalist and Speaker, IPR Author, Head – IPR, Tamil Chamber of Commerce and a Senior Counsel at Cholamandal IP Law Firm. As well along with this I have published a book in English titled Arts and Crafts of India: Registered GI Products. To spread awareness about IPRs, I have penned a book titled Intellectual Property in Tamil. This is a little gist about myself.

 

  1. Since you have been in the field of IPR for quite a long time, so according to you what are the set of skills required to be successful in these fields?

I believe good communication is something one should focus upon. Work relies on good communication skills, both written and oral. You will need to be proficient at using words to define and describe; to explain and advise; to instruct and to question; and to persuade. You will have to communicate with scientists and engineers; business people; other lawyers; and tribunals such as courts and patent offices. One should also acquire good analytical skills, to analyse large amounts of information and reach logical, well-reasoned conclusions. You will need to be clear thinking and rigorous in your analyses, critical of data and evidence, comprehensive in your approach. You will need to get to grips with both the details of a situation and its “big picture” implications, processing legal and commercial information as well as scientific.

  

  1. How much weightage would you give to proper legal research and the tools used for doing it? How should law students equip themselves with legal research skills?

Research is the most important aspect when it comes to law. You will need to be comfortable with technical information, possibly over a wider range of technologies than you are used to. Even if you are a biochemist, for example, you might still have to get to grips with the mechanical or electrical aspects of a client’s new drug delivery device. You will need to understand basic engineering drawings, circuit diagrams and flowcharts, and of course graphs, spreadsheets and other common data presentation formats. To be good at the job, you should have an enquiring mind. You must be able to ask the right questions and learn quickly, becoming just enough of an expert to provide the legal assistance your client needs. It will also help if your curiosity extends to the commercial aspects of your work: a patent attorney should be as interested in a client’s business as in the technology it works with.

 

  1. How much, according to you, is the impact of “exhaustion of research” in the fields of intellectual property rights?

Exhaustion plays a vivid important role when it comes to IPR. Exhaustion means the consumption of rights in intellectual property subject-matter as a consequence of the legitimate transfer of the title in the tangible article that incorporates or bears the intellectual property asset in question. Exhaustion, therefore, is a natural consequence of the intangible nature of the assets covered by intellectual property, such as expressions, knowledge, reputation, quality, origin. Because of their intangible nature, they do not follow the tangible article with which they are associated.

 

5. Being a specialist in IPR, what is your take on India’s footing in IPR on international level and what changes can be introduced for the development of India in the field of IPR?

When you look at European and American countries, they have geographical indication only for agricultural produce, wines and spirits. GI for handicrafts and handloom is well established and in large numbers only in India.

6. The fact that certain universities are establishing such centers on IPR, how do you see this as an asset for changing the fate of IPR in India?

In today’s intellectual era, India has shown a considerable growth in its research and development. The presence of established state of the art labs of Indian as well as multinational companies in the country has clearly proved the Indian IP status in the world. The rise in Indian economy is a clear impact of intellectual property (IP) influence in the country. By setting up new technology, incubation centers in various parts of the country and providing financial aids to the technologist, the research and development (R&D) status of the country has been boosted up.

7. How has the pandemic influenced the field of IPR? What challenges and trends have been observed during this time in the IPR?

Amongst the many challenges during a pandemic, innovation stakeholders and manufacturing firms particularly find themselves suddenly engaged in new relationships, possibly even with firms that have been competitors prior to the pandemic. Those stakeholders are thus likely to face intellectual property-related challenges. Unfortunately, to (governmental) decision-makers these challenges might not appear to be of paramount urgency compared to the many, huge operational challenges to deploy urgently needed resources. However, if IP challenges are considered too late, they may cause delays to urgently mobilising resources effectively. Manufacturing firms could be reluctant to fully engage in the development and mass manufacturing of crisis-critical products.

9. Any final piece of advice which you would like to give to the law students and graduates? 

Attending law school is a serious commitment. It will affect your relationships, take up all of your time and change your day-to-day life. That is why it is important to stay dedicated. Law school is competitive. There will be students who will do anything they can to get ahead of you. Remembering to stay dedicated no matter how hard, exhausting and boring it may get is an important part of law school success. Dedication and perseverance will help you stay ahead of the curve and ultimately affect your career as a lawyer.

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