About Mr V.C. Mathews
Mr V.C. Mathews is the Intellectual Property Group Head at Fox Mandal & Associates LLP. He has 15 years of experience in trade mark, copyright and design matters, and has been handling Indian and international clients across various industries such as apparel, luxury, pharmaceuticals, FMCG, technology and retail. He regularly appears before the Trade Mark, Copyright and Designs Registry in India, and is a regular speaker with organisations such as Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), etc., and has served as an adjunct professor of IP at his alma mater. With a passion for sports and technology, Mr Mathews can be seen dabbling in the convergence of sports and technology law with IP.
1. For the interest of your readers, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your journey in the legal profession?
I did my schooling in Kerala and then did my law from the Symbiosis Law School in Pune. I always wanted to practise in the field of intellectual property after dabbling in it during one of my internships and therefore, took it as my area of law on passing out.
2. Around 10 years back, intellectual property was a relatively smaller field in law. So, what was the driving factor that made you choose intellectual property as your specialisation?
During the course of our vacations between semesters, I used to intern at law firms and under individual lawyers. One of those internships exposed me to intellectual property rights (IPR). I liked the subject but was not sure as to if I wanted to take it up as my area of speciality. To discover the same, I did a further two internships with a firm specialising in this field. At the end of those internships, I realised that this was the area of law that I wanted to specialise in. Not many wanted to go into this field at that time as most of them wanted to do corporate law and the more common fields.
3. You have had a commendable journey in IPR over the years. Among all the matters handled by you, which was the most exciting and challenging, according to you?
I believe each of the matters are different. Therefore, there is not any one which is on top of the list. The challenges posed by each are different and how one strategies to ensure the client receives the registration is very fulfilling.
4. In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of intellectual property laws?
The most important aspect of intellectual property laws is the protection and recognition of the intellectual creations and innovations of individuals or entities. Intellectual property laws are designed to safeguard the rights of creators and innovators, and provide legal frameworks for the ownership, use, and protection of intangible assets such as inventions, trade marks, copyrights, trade secrets, and patents.
Intellectual property laws serve several critical purposes, including encouraging innovation and creativity, promoting economic growth and competition, protecting against unauthorised use and infringement and facilitating transfer of technology and knowledge.
Overall, the most important aspect of intellectual property laws is to strike a balance between protecting the rights of creators and innovators, fostering innovation and economic growth, and promoting access to knowledge and technology for the benefit of society as a whole.
5. Do you believe the laws in India are effective in protecting intellectual property?
The effectiveness of intellectual property protection in India can be a subjective matter and depends on various factors. While India has a legal framework in place for the protection of intellectual property, including patents, trade marks, copyrights, and trade secrets, there have been concerns about the enforcement and effectiveness of these laws.
Some of the challenges related to intellectual property protection in India include delays in the registration and examination process, issues with enforcement and piracy, complexities in litigation, and debates around balancing the interests of creators and innovators with broader public interests.
In recent years, there have been efforts by the Indian Government to improve the intellectual property ecosystem in the country, including reforms to streamline the registration and examination process, strengthening of enforcement mechanisms, and promoting awareness and education about intellectual property rights. These efforts have resulted in some positive outcomes, including increased patent filings and trade mark registrations in India.
However, there are still ongoing challenges and areas for improvement in the intellectual property protection landscape in India. Some stakeholders argue that more needs to be done to address issues such as piracy, counterfeiting, and infringement, and to further streamline and expedite the registration and examination process.
It is worth noting that the effectiveness of intellectual property protection also depends on the proactive efforts of creators and innovators to understand and utilise the available legal mechanisms for protecting their intellectual property, such as timely filing of applications, monitoring for infringement, and taking appropriate legal actions when necessary.
Overall, while there have been efforts to strengthen intellectual property protection in India, there are still challenges that need to be addressed to ensure effective protection of intellectual property rights in the country.
6. What is the impact of new-age technology on intellectual property? Can the IPR laws tackle virtual reality and the metaverse in an efficient way?
New-age technologies, including virtual reality and the metaverse, have presented unique challenges and opportunities for IP protection. As these technologies continue to evolve and become more widespread, it has become a complex area for IP laws to tackle effectively.
The impact of new-age technology on IP can be seen in several ways such as creation of new forms of IP, challenges in enforcement, cross-border complexities and emerging legal and ethical issues.
To tackle these challenges, IP laws need to evolve to address the unique aspects of new-age technologies. This may involve developing new regulations, guidelines, and industry standards specific to virtual reality and the metaverse. It may also require increased awareness and education among creators, users, and stakeholders about IP rights and responsibilities in the digital realm.
Efficiently tackling IP protection in virtual reality and the metaverse may also require cooperation and coordination among different stakeholders, including governments, technology companies, content creators, and users, to collectively develop solutions that balance the interests of IP owners, content creators, and the broader public interest.
7. Could you tell us about your association with the Round Table India?
Round Table is an organisation which started in England and is also prevalent in India. It consists of successful businessmen and professionals who believe in bringing about change and excellence in ourselves and our community.
Apart from multiple community service activities across India, our long-term project is “Freedom Through Education”, where we focus on building state-of-the-art infrastructure for the education of underprivileged children.
It is an organisation I volunteer my spare time to and have made many friends across the country and beyond over the years.
8. What would be your advice to a first-generation lawyer, such as myself, who wish to pursue a career in intellectual property?
It is tougher now than it was many years ago. First-generation lawyers will have numerous challenges. Do not be disheartened if things do not go as planned and keep working hard to get to where you want to be. The road may be longer but if you work hard enough, you will reach your objective.
9. During your time in law school, how did you undertake legal research? What is the significance of doing proper legal research?
I did undertake quite a bit of legal research during my time in law school. Proper legal research is crucial for accurate, informed, and effective legal practice. It helps ensure legal compliance, supports strong legal arguments and strategies, saves time and resources, protects rights and interests, and meets ethical obligations.
10. Would you like to share any concluding words with our readers?
There are numerous law students passing out each year. In such an environment, one has to ensure that he is different to others. Law students need to mould themselves to be different from others. Internships, writing of articles, trying to garner as much exposure as possible, etc. all help in this regard.