Capturing the imagination

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A lion on the prowl makes for a powerful image, but can it prompt a rethink on India?

The Make in India campaign’s logo of a silhouette of a lion made entirely of cogs has been providing a powerful backdrop for speeches by India’s prime minister about re-energizing India. These are “exciting times in India” as the campaign states, and the logo is expected to help draw attention to investment opportunities in 24 sectors that include biotechnology, oil and gas, and wellness.

Catchy logos and inspiring statements go a long way to capturing imaginations. The lion logo does a magnificent job in that it symbolizes manufacturing, strength and national pride, but can it prompt a rethink on the attractiveness of India as a manufacturing hub? Ask brand managers this question and they are likely to say it can.

LeaderThe focus of this month’s Cover story is on brand managers tasked with protecting intellectual property assets at companies across India. They describe their concerns and hopes for the future with regard to the management of IP assets and their preferred law firms for such matters. The challenges they face are many and varied.

As such, while several zero in on problems with the judiciary and enforcement agencies, at Monsanto Amit Thukral, the company’s assistant general counsel, points to fly-by-night infringers in the hinterlands of India as one of his big­gest challenges. At Havells brand managers are grappling with problems in cyberspace, with Harsh Aggarwal, the assistant general manager, legal, reporting that the “longstanding problem of counterfeit goods has spread its wings to online platforms”.

The brand managers profiled are some of the unsung heroes of the fight against IP infringement in India and the insights they provide are valuable, especially as this issue of India Business Law Journal will be circulated to trademark owners and IP lawyers at the 137th annual meeting of the International Trademark Association (INTA) in San Diego next month. This is one of the largest IP conferences in the world and India Business Law Journalis proud to be an official media partner of the meeting. We will have a booth in the exhibition hall and we look forward to meeting many of our readers there. (For details of how to attend, please see INTA’s advertisement on the inside back cover).

As part of our IP-themed coverage this issue includes an article by in-house lawyers at Havells Sylvania Group who present six case studies that illustrate ways to successfully manage and protect trademarks in India (Trademark troubles). One of the cases is about an effort to stop a manufacturer of plyboard from using the Havells trademark. Filing a suit for infringement and permanent injunction in Delhi High Court against the plyboard manufacturer, Havells was able to obtain a ruling from the court that gives the trademark of its electrical goods brand the status of a well-known mark. This is an important achievement.

In Vantage point Venky Vaiyapuri, of iVoice Ventures, writes of both problems and his faith in India’s IP regime. iVoice Ventures has been caught up in a trademark battle with the computer giant Apple that was triggered by the Trade Marks Registry’s gazette publication of its iFon mark. Apple opposed the mark because of the phonetic similarity to its iPhone mark. Vaiyapuri writes of “pointed progress” being made within the Trade Marks Registry with e-filing becoming a reality, yet companies “may still experience inordinate delays” during filing or enforcement exercises, which in turn can result in long drawn out court cases, during which companies such as his are “left languishing in limbo”. Despite all of this Vaiyapuri says: “We have absolute and unwavering faith in the Indian judici­ary and look forward to a fair decision to conclude this case”.

In What’s the deal? we turn the spotlight on the recent merger between two high-profile IP law firms: Singh & Singh, founded by Prathiba Singh, a leading patent litigator who is currently a senior advocate, and Lall & Sethi, founded by Chander Lall. This was “definitely big news” according to Sanjit Kaur Batra, senior counsel and legal manager at DuPont. Yet with more than one merger between law firms in India ending in a high-profile failure this merger will be closely watched. Is it likely to succeed? Both Singh and Lall report there were more synergies between the two firms than even they had anticipated and while that is a good sign, lawyers watching from the sidelines may not be holding their breath.

In Intelligence report we analyse a recent ruling in the dispute between Glenmark Pharmaceuticals and US-based Merck Sharp & Dohme over the right to produce a generic version of the anti-diabetic drug sitagliptin. The twists and turns in the dispute began in April 2013 when a single judge of Delhi High Court refused to grant an injunction sought against Glenmark. This was recently successfully appealed by Merck. According to Pravin Anand, the managing partner of Anand and Anand who represented Merck, its strategy of differential pricing has helped.

Will the Supreme Court see it similarly when it hears an appeal? We will bring news on this and other important issues as we continue to track legal developments that affect corporate India.