Yashvardhan Rana is an Intellectual Property Lawyer with a particular focus on IP prosecution – from registrability analysis and risk management to providing legal opinion on the use, adoption and registrability of trademarks to be launched by Fortune 500 companies as well as top FMCG’s in India. He is a part of the Trademarks, Copyright and Design Prosecution team at Inttl Advocare, Noida, India. 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 – 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. His educational qualification includes an LL.M. in Intellectual Property Law from the Queen Mary University of London (2015-16).
Q. You have expertise in the field of Intellectual Property. What are your areas of practice within the ambit of IPR laws?
I deal with having a particular focus on IP prosecution comprising of Trademarks, Copyright and Design Law – from registrability analysis and risk management to providing legal opinion on the availability of use, adoption and registrability of trademarks to be launched by Fortune 500 companies as well as top FMCG’s in India. Still in the process of learning and imbibing from the very best – But I tend to also advise 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.
I have expertise (which I’ll assume that I have) in conducting searches and providing clearance opinions for the availability for use and registration of trademarks, services marks, geographical indications, trade-names, domain names, gTLDs, ccTLDs and industrial designs, based on searches at the TM Office database, WIPO database, WhoIs search, MCA database search, online investigations, market enquiries and surveys, common law sources, searches for International Non-proprietary Names (INNs) and INN stems, etc. Still a long way to go and expand my knowledge in the areas that also interest me such as Data Protection, Cyber Laws, IT Law – Artificial Intelligence and the likes.
Q. Could you specify and briefly explain some India-specific problems pertaining to IPR?
Well, there are many – but to cut the long story short, few of the specific problems that have arisen over the past few years pertain to but are not limited to having IP specialists/experts at specialized benches/forums which should be well co-ordinated and centralized, stricter penal provisions, liberal approach to registration of generic names, appointment and disposal of matters still take time, should develop a mechanism in ensuring that further infringement of rights does not occur while a 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, Blockchain Technology and other technological advancements post COVID era etc. at a warfooting.
Q. In the foreseeable future, there is likely to be growth in innovations in India in the field of manufacturing as well as in the tech and e-commerce spaces. Are we as a country equipped for such a future in terms of IPR laws?
We have all the laws in place in our statutory books, courts and judges are well equipped having the necessary expertise in hearing and dealing with IP specific matters (changed drastically over the past decade), but what bothers me is the attitudinal aspect/mindset and implementation of progressive laws which I still feel lack in our system in the sense in conducting regulatory compliances and bringing about awareness at grass-roots level involving IP Law. We have all the facilities in the world, have forums being set up to bring about awareness, a decent amount of workforce that is propelling various initiatives at different levels at different forums – but, as a country which forecasts itself to be a 5 trillion dollar economy in the near future, a lot has to be done and achieved in the foreseeable future.
Q. Do you think the Intellectual Property Appellate Board is rightly teethed to deal with the various issues?
Glad that you’ve touched upon this topic. This has been a controversial topic for a few years now. Currently – No, but it should be revamped with the finest state of the art machinery in place and appointment of an IP expert, a technical member and a former judge who has experience in dealing with IP matters (to be scrutinised thoroughly), hearing of matters in a time-bound manner should be done on a war footing – if we as a country are to become a global superpower. If we can build statues, roads and highways in a time-bound manner – then why can’t we build world class infrastructure in setting up of IPAB benches in four major cities in India delivering justice and ensuring timely disposal of matters that in turn would lead to building an ecosystem encouraging better innovation leading to technological advancements and growth as an economic superpower. Also, IPAB can hear select urgent matters wherein the High Courts are over-burdened to assist and supplement its functioning to deal with IP matters.
If the above cannot be achieved, let’s say in the next one or two years, then the best option would be to scrap the IPAB.
Q. On the personal front, why did you choose to specialise in IPR?
The world of brands and logos has 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. 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 during 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.
Q . Having studied both in India and the UK, what kind of difference have you observed between Indian and Western educational institutions, in general, as far as education in the legal field is concerned?
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.
All I can say is there is world of a difference when it comes to the teaching methods adopted by law schools abroad as compared to Indian law schools – they are much more engaging and involve a Socratic way of teaching rather than emphasising on theoretical rote learning which is sadly the case here in India. There is much more emphasis on dealing with problems analytically to situation-based real life practical world problems in foreign law schools which in turn equips the lawyer to face the legal world with much more panache and the required skill set. Law schools here in India are soon catching up but to be the front runners in this case, a lot has to be achieved before we compete with foreign law schools or call ourselves world class institutions.
Q. What kind of advise will you give to law students in India who are keen to pursue a higher education abroad?
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 smooth and gives you an edge in interviews (largely depends on the policy and outlook of the firm that you’re 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.
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.