New trademark rules came into force in India in March 2017, which ushered in several notable changes: they allow for the registration of sound marks; enable expedited prosecution; and provide for the electronic service of documents. The applicant classification system was also changed, with a distinction being drawn between start-ups and small enterprises on the one hand and larger companies on the other; while official fee increases are limited for those in the former group, they are much greater for the latter. These developments indicate that the government is paying greater attention to IP issues. Notwithstanding complaints surrounding attempts to tackle the backlog of cases at the Indian trademark office, this has been welcomed as a positive step by the country’s IP community.
Firms: enforcement and litigation
Firms: prosecution and strategy
- Anand and Anand
- Archer & Angel
- Chadha & Chadha Intellectual Property Law Firm
- De Penning & De Penning
- K&S Partners
- Khaitan & Co
- Krishna & Saurastri Associates LLP
- Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan
- Lall Lahiri & Salhotra
- Remfry & Sagar
- RK Dewan & Co
- Singh & Associates, Founder – Manoj K Singh, Advocates and Solicitors
- SS Rana & Co
- ZeusIP Advocates
Indian trademark professionals unanimously agree that Anand and Anand has some of the best IP litigation skills in the country. Its reputation in this regard is international and foreign associates are quick to recommend the firm as “a tremendous organisation you can rely on heavily”. Cited for his “innovative and imaginative” approach, managing partner Pravin Anand is a redoubtable force on the contentious side of the practice and has a slew of ground-breaking victories on his résumé. An international thought leader, he is also a respected author and speaker on IP topics. His gold-tier counterpart on the prosecution side is Safir Anand, who heads the trademark and commercial IP department. He possesses broad expertise and can advise brand owners holistically, taking into consideration advertising, marketing and labelling law, among others.
Archer & Angel
New Delhi-based full-service player Archer & Angel makes its debut in the WTR 1000 this year, riding a wave of positive feedback from associates based in the United States. One source enthuses: “It has an extremely responsive and thoughtful trademark team and we’ve begun shifting a lot of our work to it as a result.” According to another: “It gives practical advice that is of great assistance in navigating the Indian trademark system.” Sanjay Chhabra and Srijoy Das are the names to note.
Chadha & Chadha Intellectual Property Law Firm
Aside from its New Delhi headquarters, IP specialist Chadha & Chadha has nine branches across India and can handle matters swiftly and efficiently at each of the five trademark registries in the country. Utilising a sophisticated file management system, the firm’s 27 lawyers, supported by a large team of backroom staff, have all aspects of trademark prosecution on lock. The outfit also litigates proficiently, and many of its senior figures, including international practice head Chetan Chadha and Mumbai office chief Gopal Trivedi, specialise in contentious matters. Consistent growth across all areas of the practice pays testament to the quality of the firm’s work.
De Penning & De Penning
De Penning & De Penning was established in 1856 and is a pioneer in the practice of IP law in India. Throughout its history, the firm has embraced change and provides an exceptional service to dynamic brand owners in a global market. De Penning’s trademark specialists offer every brand-related service under the sun, making it a true one-stop shop. When it comes to litigation and enforcement, Malavika Vikram is the person to call.
Fidus Law Chambers
Top-tier firms in European markets place their trust in strategic advisory and advocacy outfit Fidus Law Chambers when they need assistance in complex trademark spats in India. Former International Trademark Association board member Shwetasree Majumder is “highly responsive and inspires confidence with her deep knowledge of the Indian IP system”. “She gives cases the attention they deserve.”
Sterling IP boutique Inttl Advocare maintains a cutting-edge contentious IP practice and is well suited to both domestic and multi-jurisdictional cases. The talismanic Hemant Singh – who has handled a remarkable 2,000-plus IP litigations in his career – is enthusiastically endorsed by those he has represented. “An excellent legal strategist, Hemant is a fantastic choice for your most critical IP litigations. He responds promptly, identifies novel strategies, provides a world-class service at competitive rates and does much to further your business objectives. As a result of his deep research and excellent presentation skills, he gets favourable results. He has surrounded himself with a great team of lawyers, too.” Of late, he has won important judgments for Nestlé, adidas and Novartis – and many other blue-chip brands.
K&S Partners makes a formidable opponent in any branding dispute; its expert panel of lawyers stays “utterly committed throughout the course of infringement proceedings” and earns praise for its “fast handling of cases” and “comprehensive advice”. It also performs exceptionally in prosecution, thanks to the registry expertise of its practitioners and its refined document management systems and exhaustive trademark database. Senior partner Rajendra Kumar provides resolute leadership to the litigation practice. The courts are a home away from home for this seasoned pro; he is also a leading light on the subject of geographical indications.
Khaitan & Co
Eminent full-service firm Khaitan & Co has a “very bright IP team which deserves its excellent reputation in trademarks”. The brand experts here handle a wide range of IP-rich deals and have consequently developed an outstanding IP due diligence service. They deliver exceptional results on just about every mandate under the trademarks umbrella and undertake prosecution for the Tata Group and Lupin, as well as litigation for various domestic and foreign companies. New to the WTR 1000 this year is practice head Adheesh Nargolkar, “a practical and responsive professional who is willing to get on the phone at any hour and provide a quick answer. He offers commercial advice and is a personable guy who is a pleasure to work with”. Shailendra Bhandare is another recommended expert. “He’s good in just about every aspect of trademarks and is a trusted adviser with extensive experience at the Mumbai High Court.”
Krishna & Saurastri Associates LLP
With over 150 staff members stationed across key commercial hubs in India, robust boutique Krishna & Saurastri dispenses the full suite of trademark services. By focusing on the interests of its clients rather than its own earnings and through its passion for intellectual property, the group has engendered the trust of rights holders across a multitude of industry sectors. Prosecution maestro Sunil Krishna is a reliable and savvy strategic adviser. When an experienced IP litigator is needed, Manish Saurastri is the man to call.
A muscular multi-service firm, Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan boasts some impressive statistics: it has 11 offices, over 40 partners and 300-plus professionals in total. The IP division is one of four central departments and, far from playing a supporting role, it is a good option for standalone strategic and commercially infused guidance on trademark law. Parthasrathy R is based in Chennai and captains the side.
Lall Lahiri & Salhotra
Having undergone substantial growth in terms of referrals and headcount, Lall Lahiri & Salhotra is in fine fettle. Its enforcement practice has been especially busy of late; a great choice for customs intercepts, the LLS lawyers identify and track targets with laser precision and take swift action to nip counterfeiting in the bud – saving clients time, money and hassle. An increasingly popular port of call for prosecution mandates, too, the group shines with its rapid response rate and its rigorous and creative advice; Novartis recently transferred all of its ALCON Division trademark matters to the firm and MetLife has consolidated all of its IP work here. Collectively, Rahul Chaudhry, Veena Poolakal and Anuradha Salhotra dispense wraparound contentious and non-contentious advice that brings legal certainty and supports business development. Dynamic managing partner Chaudhry has an eagle eye for quality and client satisfaction is always at the forefront of his mind.
Hyderabad, Mumbai, New Delhi and Pune outfit Legasis takes a business-minded and solutions-oriented approach to intellectual property, which is a central pillar of its commercial law offering. Understanding that intellectual assets are redundant unless they are enforced and monetised, the team supplies end-to-end trademark advice to put clients at a distinct advantage in their marketplaces. Mustafa Safiyuddin has served as chairman of the firm for nearly a decade.
Local peer and foreign associate feedback for boutique LexOrbis paints a picture of a forward-looking firm with a dynamic trademark practice. Sources wax lyrical about the firm’s growth and the diversity of its services, and highlight its “research skills and deep understanding of all the finer points of trademark law”. Investing time to understand the business environments in which its clients operate is a key element of its modus operandi, enabling its practitioners to provide counsel that is sensitive to commercial realities. The side’s bespoke and flexible billing arrangements are further evidence of an appreciation for business concerns. Key contacts include Manisha Singh and Abhai Pandey.
Remfry & Sagar
“Extremely prompt and reliable”, boutique Remfry & Sagar has an incredibly rich history – it celebrated its 190th anniversary in 2017. Not only is it one of the oldest IP players in India – and the world – it is also one of the largest, with 80 professionals taking on a sizeable chunk of inbound Indian market work. The team also has all aspects of trademark prosecution and maintenance covered and demonstrates rare skill in handling infringement litigation. Many of its members are thought leaders in the international IP community and are influential in the development of India’s IP infrastructure, too. The client feedback that it garners is excellent: “Working with Remfry & Sagar’s lawyers is like working with old friends – they take care of everything without you having to ask them. The trademark system in India can be very slow and frustrating, but the firm does everything it can to alleviate this and makes the best out of any situation.” With five individuals listed in the WTR 1000 – more than any other in the country – it has a deep bench of outstanding practitioners. Managing partner Ashwin Julka is a visionary leader who commands the respect of the entire Indian IP profession. Master prosecutor Samta Mehra wields a deft touch when it comes to transactional matters and leads the designs practice. Devika Mehra manages portfolios with finesse and is a geographical indications guru, while CA Brijesh anchors the litigation practice and parlays his enforcement nous into an impressive strategic counselling practice. Last but not least, Vishnumohan Rethinam is the king of copyright, but is also no slouch when it comes to anything trademark related.
In hot demand, RK Dewan has seen tremendous growth in recent years – a time in which many of the more traditional Indian IP set-ups have been experiencing a decline. “The firm enjoys a great reputation in the corporate world and is a favourite due to the quality of its advice, its speed and its highly professional approach.” Its pan-Indian contentious practice is one of the jewels in its crown; its contentious strike force was recently called on for a trademark infringement and passing-off case by Cartier International, obtaining a swift resolution in which the court upheld the ‘CARTIER’ mark as well known in India – a brilliant result that set the tone for easier future enforcement. Leading on this one was Mohan Dewan, a patent and trademark litigator who possesses a strategic encyclopaedia. A staunch ally for brand owners in the fight against fakes, he is a top anti-counterfeiter, but his experience also makes him a highly sought-after brand counsellor. There are a number of other senior experts on the RK Dewan roster, but an up-and-comer who is turning heads is Disha Dewan, “a future superstar of the Indian IP Bar”.
RNA, Technology and IP Attorneys
Now a well-rounded boutique, RNA originally entered into practice with a trademarks focus. Managing a portfolio of more than 7,000 trademarks and litigating infringement and passing-off cases regularly, soft IP remains a core strength of the organisation. Patrons are full of praise for the set’s “practical, well-informed and business-oriented advice”. “It is highly responsive to the needs of its clients, does an outstanding job and is a pleasure to work with.” Founding partner Ranjan Narula has spent over two decades at the IP coalface and is a commercial thinker with in-house experience on his résumé. One foreign associate describes him as being “head and shoulders above his peers in India”.
Saikrishna & Associates
Saikrishna & Associates “attracts a diverse array of cases” and as a result, has refined its ability to identify and execute “out-of-the-box solutions” to complex IP conundrums. Sources recommend the firm for both litigation and prosecution and note that while it may not have the biggest practice in either area, “it does outstanding quality work”. “A very impressive IP lawyer, particularly within the technology, media and telecommunications areas”, Ameet Datta is responsible for a lot of the set’s key clients. He is supported by Saikrishna Rajagopal, a prominent and shrewd litigator.
Clients of Singh & Associates, Founder – Manoj K Singh, Advocates and Solicitors have access to boutique-like levels of IP specialisation, in addition to the resources of a full-service organisation. The ISO 9001:2008-certified New Delhi-headquartered organisation – which has additional offices in other important commercial centres – does a top job in securing trademark protection for a varied client base and whipping portfolios into shape. “The firm is very responsive, and its results are first rate. Singh & Associates attorneys are very customer focused and work hard to achieve clients’ aims. For anyone having difficulty finding reliable counsel in India, this is the place to come.” Manoj Kumar Singh and Daizy Chawla co-lead the practice.
Singh & Singh Law Firm LLP de-merged from Lall & Sethi as a result of conflict-of-interest difficulties and since the split, the side has been strengthening its contentious practice and getting back into the groove of regular appearances in commercially crucial IP litigation. The firm’s unique selling points include an uncompromising stance on quality, rapid reactions to instructions and 24/7 availability. Sudeep Chatterjee is the key name for the address book.
SS Rana & Co
A dynamic player with a pan-Indian full-service commercial law practice, SS Rana & Co has been making waves in the IP community. The outfit’s personable professionals cultivate longstanding relationships with clients, getting to know what makes them tick so that brand strategies can be appropriately tailored. Given the firm’s robust corporate practice, the IP team gets to work on a variety of deals and has honed its intangible rights commercialisation skills, which complements the litigation dexterity of the senior partners exceptionally well. Managing partner Vikrant Rana is an assured leader of the practice.
WS Kane & Co
WS Kane & Co makes light work of sophisticated IP disputes; it puts in resonant courtroom performances, which place it in the best position to facilitate early wins – something it does often. Having been in the IP game for over 70 years, it has developed a comprehensive and refined service and its experienced advocates always know where, when and how to gain an edge over opposing counsel. Himanshu Kane is a terrific advocate with whetted trial skills.
ZeusIP pays close attention to every client and every case; a focus on quality and client service is the hallmark of its trade. With no aspect of trademark protection or enforcement outside of its domain, the firm is a vibrant one-stop shop for brand owners. A favourite of high-ranking foreign associates referring work into India, Gunjan Paharia is a discerning manager of the firm.
Other recommended expertsRekhar Dabas of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas is “a proficient trademark lawyer with a deep understanding of the market”. A commercial lawyer with a strong foundation in intellectual property, Gowree Gokhale of Nishith Desai Associates provides business-conscious advice to brand owners in the technology and life sciences arenas. Groverlaw’s Vikram Grover is a hugely popular lawyer. “He provides clear, well-reasoned advice and is extremely thorough and proactive – by far one of the best Indian IP attorneys. He is someone you can absolutely trust to provide quality legal support and in a quick turnaround time.” Dual-qualified in India and England and Wales and an ace brand strategist with a knack for effective enforcement, Neel Mason has done much to shape Indian copyright law and is at the forefront of trademark issues in the digital realm. He is the leader at Mason & Associates. Ranjan Negi of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas is a top technology lawyer with a wealth of IP expertise. Independent practitioner Anupam Pandey has a thorough understanding of international and domestic IP policy. “The leading copyright and entertainment lawyer in India”, Xerxes Ranina also knows a thing or two about brands and is “an extremely clever lawyer who has a lot of commercial sense”. He practises out of Neolegal Associates. Ajay Sahni is the proprietor of his own eponymous law firm and a respected name in IP circles, having held leadership positions in Indian and international IP associations. He has litigated at all court levels and is an experienced enforcer of intangible rights. Raja Selvam of Selvam and Selvam is recommended as “a proactive, knowledgeable lawyer who provides clear, to-the-point advice”. Amarjit Singh runs Amarjit & Associates. A founding partner of Anand and Anand, he has practised at the vanguard of intellectual property in India for decades. Sushant Singh runs an IP boutique under his own name. He has a first-rate track record in litigation and dispute resolution.
Individuals: enforcement and litigation
- Pravin Anand - Anand and Anand
- Rajendra Kumar - K&S Partners
- Saikrishna Rajagopal - Saikrishna & Associates
- Mohan Dewan - RK Dewan & Co
- Vikram Grover - Groverlaw
- Himanshu Kane - WS Kane & Co
- Shwetasree Majumder - Fidus Law Chambers
- Amarjit Singh Monga - Amarjit & Associates
- Ranjan Narula - RNA, Technology and IP Attorneys
- Mustafa Safiyuddin - Legasis
- Anuradha Salhotra - Lall Lahiri & Salhotra
- Hemant Singh - Inttl Advocare
- CA Brijesh - Remfry & Sagar
- Ameet Datta - Saikrishna & Associates
- Neel Mason - Mason & Associates
- Vikrant Rana - SS Rana & Co
- Ajay Sahni - Ajay Sahni & Associates
- Manish Saurastri - Krishna & Saurastri Associates LLP
- Sushant Singh - Sushant M Singh & Associates
Individuals: prosecution and strategy
- Safir Anand - Anand and Anand
- Rahul Chaudhry - Lall Lahiri & Salhotra
- Ashwin Julka - Remfry & Sagar
- Mohan Dewan - RK Dewan & Co
- Sunil B Krishna - Krishna & Saurastri Associates LLP
- Ranjan Narula - RNA, Technology and IP Attorneys
- Gunjan Paharia - ZeusIP Advocates
- Shailendra Bhandare - Khaitan & Co
- Sanjay Chhabra - Archer & Angel
- Rekhar Dabas - Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas
- Srijoy Das - Archer & Angel
- Gowree A Gokhale - Nishith Desai Associates
- Devika Mehra - Remfry & Sagar
- Samta Mehra - Remfry & Sagar
- Adheesh Nargolkar - Khaitan & Co
- Ranjan Negi - Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas
- Anupam Pandley - Independent practitioner
- Veena Poolakal - Lall Lahiri & Salhotra
- Xerxes Ranina - Neolegal Associates
- Vishnumohan Rethinam - Remfry & Sagar
- Raja Selvam - Selvam and Selvam
- Malavika Vikram - De Penning & De Penning