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In a relatively short span of time, the Delhi High Court has emerged as one of the more dynamic courts in developing the country’s IPR jurisprudence. Judgments on copyright claims, Standard Essential Patents, and varied IP infringements have had far-reaching effects on the growth of IPR law in India, with several of these cases being the first of their kind.
Battles between top pharma companies and technological giants have brought the High Court into the spotlight of IPR litigation in India. Side by side, the Delhi Bar has produced a number of lawyers who have begun to deal exclusively with IP-law.
In this column, Bar & Bench profiles five such counsels.
1. Pratibha M Singh
Designated Senior Advocate in 2013, Pratibha Singh has been a prominent name in the field of Intellectual Property, not only in India, but all over the world. This Cambridge University alumnus received the Best IP Senior Counsel of the Year in 2014.
Singh founded Singh & Singh Law Firm with her husband, Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh in 1997. Singh & Singh soon grew to become one of the most prominent law firms in the field of IP litigation in the country. In February last year, Singh & Singh merged with another IP powerhouse, Lall & Sethi, to form a nine-partner firm.
Singh has also set up the Pratibha M Singh Cambridge Scholarship which enables exceptional law students from the country to follow in her academic and professional footsteps.
“We need to train young people in IP litigation. It’s a completely different ball game to deal with IP prosecution and IP litigation. A little bit of technical training can go a long way.
Training in litigation strategies, collecting evidence in IP litigation and being updated about what all is happening in the field of IP are the three most important aspects.”
2. Chander M Lall
Founding partner and head of litigation practice at Singh & Singh Lall & Sethi, Chander Lall is a well-known name in the field of IP. A graduate of Meerut University, Lall is also the President of the Intellectual Property Attorneys Association.
Notable cases: Lall has represented corporate giants like Reckitt Benckiser, Havells India Ltd, Cadbury, Colgate Palmolive etc. in multiple suits in the High Court. Targeting issues of disparagement of advertisements, copyright in cinematograph films, comparative advertising and denigration, Lall has created a name and permanent space for his firm in the top tier of IP practitioners.
“The biggest issue with the Delhi High Court is how to deal with patent litigation cases. The Delhi High Court deals with issues that are path-breaking in the field of IP; for example, standard essential patents. The law is developing globally and the Delhi High Court is at the forefront of that.
So many copyright, design, trademark issues are being dealt with on a daily basis. There is a high expectation from the Delhi High Court now. Several judgments since the Whirlpool case in 1990s have been used globally.”
On the issue of intellectual property keeping up with the rapidly developing technology, Lall says,
“The Commercial Courts Act, the Information Technology Act, the amendments to the Copyright Act take into account various aspects of digital technology. We have sufficient laws to deal with this, it is the issue of implementing them, disseminating knowledge and finally delivering. The Delhi High Court gets a bulk of litigation when it comes to intellectual property.”
3. Pravin Anand
The Managing Partner of Anand & Anand, Pravin Anand was the first Indian legal practitioner to receive the ‘AIPPI Award of Merit’ in 2015.
He also sits on the editorial board of a number of IP journals, and is the Chairman of IPR Promotion Advisory Committee (IPAC) constituted by the Government of India. He has also appeared as an expert witness before Parliamentary committees to give evidence on amendments to trademark, patent and copyright law.
Notable Cases: He represented Philips and obtained the Mareva Injunction Order in the case which stopped two Indian companies from infringing the patented “digital transmission systems” of Philips to manufacture their VCDs. He also got the first Norwich Pharmacal Order in the Hollywood Cigarettes case. Recently, he was also involved in the DU Photocopiers case, where he represented the Indian Reprographic Rights Organization (IRRO), the Association of Publishers in India, and the Federation of Indian Publishers.
“The future of the world depends in a big way on how economies use the internet and concepts like ambient intelligence, artificial intelligence and the internet of things to boost their industrial and agricultural production and provide solutions to their people in the fields of education and healthcare and of course, entertainment to content-hungry consumers.
In all of these endeavours, intellectual property is a common thread and no change can be visualized without it. It follows as a corollary that intellectual property will become a skill much like maths, reading or writing and will become an integral part of each of us.”
A Senior Counsel designated in 1986, Sudhir Chandra has over twenty years experience in IP litigation. He completed law from Campus Law Centre, Delhi University after graduating from Hindu College and has been an integral part of a number of significant IP cases.
Notable cases: Copyright infringement suit filed by Sholay Media and Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. against Vodafone over the sale of ringtones of songs and dialogues from the 70’s blockbuster.
In the recent past, Chandra has appeared for the Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Taylor and Francis Group in the DU Photocopiers case. He also appeared for Britannia in the biscuit packaging war between Britannia and ITC.
5. Saikrishna Rajagopal
Managing Partner of Saikrishna and Associates, Saikrishna Rajagopal has extensively dealt with civil and criminal intellectual property litigation.
He has been featured as a ‘Leading Individual’ in Intellectual Property by the Chambers Global – Guide to Leading Legal Professionals of the World in its 2007 and 2009 editions and has also been ranked as a sole “Star Individual” in IP Litigation by the Chambers & Partners – Asia Rankings 2013.
Notable cases: Rajagopal was one of the lawyers in a landmark trademark judgment of 2012, wherein a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court held that Indian trademark law follows an “international exhaustion” regime. He was also the counsel for a Canadian musician in a high-profile copyright infringement claim against an award-winning music composer from Kerala.
“There is a disturbing trend of the introduction of a public interest element over and above what is provided in the statutes. This is a huge concern that comes to mind because the way intellectual property statues are structured, a right is granted and the circumstances in which that right can be taken away are also articulated in the statute.
What is disturbing to me as an IP litigator is that there is an increasing tendency and inclination to go beyond statutory limitations relating to the realms and borders of public interest into areas far broader than the limits provided.”