Gunjan Paharia is a qualified attorney and a Registered Patent Agent. She has nearly two decades of experience in pure IP law and cognate laws. Her expertise, in particular, extends to Patents, Trademark, Copyright and Industrial designs, and includes obtaining registrations, counselling on protection, enforcement and management of Intellectual Property assets with a special focus on enforcement of Intellectual Property, conducting detailed due diligence projects, representing clients in Intellectual Property litigation in various courts across India. She also has extensive experience in prosecuting trade mark and patent applications, and managing clients’ portfolio in India and the neighbouring countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan.
Q. What are the major challenges that lawyers usually face in IP-related practice/litigation in India?
The dynamic nature of the practice is the biggest challenge. While the Act is fairly clear, the interpretation of the law by various courts and tribunals remains dynamic and it takes creativity to understand the true nature of the conflict or the issue. In addition to the same, the practice directions of the IP Office to its examiners etc makes the prosecution practice challenging as these make arguments and reasoning with the IP office almost redundant.
Q. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic scenario, there are some essential innovations taking place across the world in the tech and medical spaces to provide much-needed relief to populations. Do you think IPR can be a hindrance to more and more people getting access to such essential products?
Not really! The law in India is robust enough to ensure that the public interest will always be paramount. As an example, the Government can take over a patent if it believes that the innovation is necessary for the public and the patentee may not be making it available to the public at large at a reasonable/affordable cost.
Q. What sets the Intellectual Property practice at ZeusIP apart from other law firms that also deal in patents, trademarks, copyrights, etc.?
The quality of service as well as the commercially viable strategy and approaches that we offer the clients to maximize their legal budgets for the best possible protection and enforcement. We pride ourselves as being the client’s partners rather than just legal counsels.
Q. Do you think the Intellectual Property Appellate Board is rightly teethed to deal with the various issues?
I do believe so! The intention of the legislature behind setting up of the IPAB was to have an authority focused on the intellectual property matters. The IPAB was fully empowered with all the authority as that of any High Court in the country and it offers a much speedier disposal of the IP matters than the IP owner would have to face before a High Court. The fact that it also eases the burden on the High Courts should also not be missed.
Q. You are co-chair of the INTA’s India initiative to collaborate with the Indian Government (DIPP) for the spread of IP awareness amongst school going children. Could you tell us more about this initiative? Why is it essential for school students to learn about IPR?
Counterfeiting is a major menace in many ways. Studies show that in addition to revenue loss to the IP holder, it also contributes to the drug lobby as well as organized crimes. The idea behind educating children about the pitfalls of counterfeiting is creating awareness to not drive the demand for counterfeiting as well as contributing to bringing up an entire generation of legally aware and responsible citizens of the future.
Q. On a personal level, how are you adapting to the changes in professional environments brought about by the pandemic and the lockdown? What do you like to do when you are not working?
With the infrastructure available today, working from home has become very easy. The teams have access to almost all resources as they had while in office. The culture is now setting in and working remotely is becoming seamless and painless. The only thing that is compromised is the team building which can only happen by way of interpersonal interaction. This is being addressed by us through various other channels like team meetings on various platforms, doing various group activities online, becoming an online community etc. We also actively mentor our people through weekly sessions which not only focuses on work related education but also acquiring life skills and a focus on mental and emotional health of our people has been very high on the agenda during this time.
Like everyone else, the time spent with family has been the greatest win of the lockdown. The opportunity to pursue hobbies like gardening, reading, painting has also been on the forefront.