What was it that attracted you to a career in intellectual property and how has it met your expectations?
When I joined the profession almost two decades ago, India was on the cusp of becoming a global investment hub. Foreign direct investment opportunities were opening up for global brands to set up shop with increased emphasis on advertising and marketing to push their branding activities. I got involved in advisory work for various global conglomerates and had the opportunity to work across a variety of IP matters, including appearing in reported landmark cases. Before I realised it, intellectual property had consumed me and there was no looking back.
My IP journey so far – whether as a litigator, creator, adviser, decision maker or consumer – has made me think of intellectual property as a way of life. Every morning, from when my alarm goes off on a patented smartwatch to checking emails on a proprietary app, consuming my daily dose of copyrighted news articles, gulping down my favourite trademarked, trade secret-protected cereal and driving to work in an IP-connected, ever-evolving automobile, I wonder if it would be possible to exist without IP rights in the modern age. Intellectual property is all encompassing and applies across sectors, industries and businesses. Disruptive technology and path-breaking inventions challenge precedents every day. Movements such as the Open Source Initiative and Creative Commons are adding new dimensions to the field.
In 2017 the Altran Group acquired Aricent, creating an engineering and R&D services powerhouse. What insight can you share about managing the cultural change resulting from acquisitions, while ensuring that high standards of IP work are maintained?
We have greatly benefited from the complimentary nature of our businesses. New lines of business have unlocked new opportunities for us. Collaboration, well-planned execution, consistent policies and clear communication have helped us to transition seamlessly.
Your expertise spans technology law, licensing, IP rights, data protection, compliance and policy making. How do you remain at the forefront of industry developments when you have such a broad IP-related remit?
Technology plays a significant role. Alerts and news updates supplemented with technical journals and periodical subscriptions provide an initial direction, while research tools are useful when digging deeper into a subject. Industry-led forums, events and conferences help practitioners to understand market trends and are critical for sharing grassroots issues and practical concerns. Knowledge sharing within the organisation also provides quick access to targeted content. Blogs and discussion forums are useful for mooting issues and give a sense of what is trending.
Time management is also key.
What is the biggest career challenge that you have faced, and what can others learn from how you overcame it?
My biggest challenge is that people often judge a book by its cover. I have grown to love challenges and think of them as opportunities for learning and growth. With hard work, consistency and perseverance, you can overcome all barriers – whether in relation to age, gender, race, class or even your own inhibitions and fears. A positive outlook is imperative to success. My strong belief in what I do and passion for intellectual property has helped to unlock many opportunities over the years.
Finally, if you could make one change to the IP environment in India, what would it be and why?
As a society, we need to be responsible consumers and respectful of third-party IP rights. IP education should form a part of the primary school curriculum. Promotion and education at grassroot level will go a long way in further strengthening the culture of intellectual property in India.