Interview with: Mr Pravin Anand, Managing Partner
Anand and Anand | View firm profile
What has been your greatest achievement, in a professional and personal capability?
In my view, my greatest achievement has been to remain focussed in the field of Intellectual Property despite distractions of other branches of law which at times appeared far more lucrative.
Maintaining focus also called for protecting the creative interests of Intellectual Property innovators and right holders at the cost of losing major work from the other side.
Speaking of greatest achievements, one which always comes to my mind is the ability to spread awareness about importance of Intellectual Property in our lives. I have been able to do this through a vast network of co-professionals, Judges, Academicians, students, government officials and journalists over the past 40 years. It feels great to have been able to inculcate in thousands of individuals the love and passion for IP.
This process of fostering love for IP has led to creation of some pioneering IP knowledge exchange platforms and knowledge material including the Raj Anand Moot Court Competition; plays on Intellectual Property; a Board Game ‘Anaryst’ to teach intellectual property; essay competitions; smart trials; a first day cover design for the government; ‘IP Man’- a Comic Book on Intellectual Property, Digital Newspaper ‘IP Thinker’ and assignment-based virtual internship program which was launched during COVID-19 induced lockdown to provide a platform to law students to learn while stranded at home and explore the wonderful world of IPR.
What do you do differently from your peers in the industry?
In my view, I started off by thinking of not only the interests of the clients that we represent, but also the development of the law. Though this approach often called for some reasonable compromises, it turned out to be beneficial in the long run. I believe my peers would think differently.
Another thing that I do a little differently is to focus on training as many people – whether from the Firm or outside – so that a deep admiration for Intellectual Property spreads to every nook and corner of the country. Thinking of larger interests, much beyond the firm, is somewhat different from the approach of others.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
A piece of advice I would give to my younger self would be an important lesson I have learnt from my own experience. It is to have an honest approach before the Judges as I firmly believe that building trust within the system – with clients, Judges and amongst your colleagues, juniors and peers – is an extremely important component of success.
Can you give me a practical example of how you helped a client add value to the business?
Advice to clients ranges from:
(a) Helping them reach a clear decision such as defining the scope of their invention or deciding the terms of a license for assessing damages;
(b) Giving them an honest opinion, in a bad case, to settle and get out of the death trap;
(c) Strategizing complex Intellectual Property matters such as mega patent litigation.
Within your sector, what do you think will be the biggest challenge for clients over the next 12 months?
It is unlikely that there would be one singular challenge which will dwarf the others and pose itself as the “biggest” faced by clients and IP right holders over the next twelve months. Covid-19 is a classic black swan event, which has upset the established order (in every nation) at each level. It is the combination of myriad difficulties arising out of the shock to the established order, which will pose as a great challenge over the next year or till balance is restored, whichever is earlier. Though it is difficult to speculate obstacles on a yearlong road, a few difficulties which can be reasonably estimated are:
(i) Easy access to the justice system – Pre-Covid, the burdening of courts was one of the greatest challenges before our judicial system. However, this also was an indicator of the large number of cases being litigated, which in-turn indicated that a large number of people did come to Court looking for redressal of their disputes. Post-Covid, courts will be cautious in entertaining every grievance of litigants, and will prioritize matters which require urgent attention. Though the Supreme Court and leading High Courts of the country have been quick to adopt video conferencing, it certainly has its limitations when en masse adjudication of disputes is concerned. Therefore, while explaining urgency was not so much of a requirement previously, now one will have to demonstrate that her/ his grievance cannot wait to be redressed (before that of others), which will be comparatively an uphill task. Also, there are cases which are of importance to litigants (for instance, monetary damages in cases where injunctions have been granted a while ago). These cases will be pushed back since the Courts are unlikely to see questions such as damages, or even those which deal with purely academic questions (which are important of course) of law and its interpretation in future cases;
(ii) Enforcement in counterfeiting cases- Counterfeiting requires the old school ‘boots on the ground’ approach. There are no two ways about it. Injunctions have to be followed with raids and seizures of goods to ensure that they do not leak in the market and cause a second wave of infringement. With movement of people being restricted in the near future, surprise raids, seizures and following through on destruction of infringing evidence will be cumbersome;
(iii) Slow disposal of cases and budget- Pending cases which were listed during the complete lockdown will obviously see some lag in their adjudication. Further difficult times for smaller organizations which may be cash strapped and will find it difficult to litigate, since money is tight.
Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?
Most clients are looking for strategic directions and above all, flexible billing arrangements to keep their Intellectual Property protected despite financial difficulties. Between heavy discounts and deferred payments, law firms are going to financially suffer unless they think of newer models to create fresh sources of revenue. The newer models will be centered around the digital environment and the Internet, as physical models will recede to a certain extent.