Asia IP reveals India’s top IP firms, practices
31 October 2020
Intellectual property owners have been overwhelmingly positive about the changes they’ve seen to India’s IP regime over recent years. The country has consistently updated its IP laws and aggressively worked to reduce the time it takes to move an action through its court system. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due some of the credit for pushing through change, India’s battle-worn IP lawyers and law firms have done much of the legwork in making India one of Asia’s – and the world’s – most attractive destinations for foreign investment.
As protection has increased, investors and rights owners have turned to India’s top intellectual property practices to enforce their rights. It was this dynamic environment in which Asia IP’s editorial team has launched our 2020 India IP Awards, designed to recognize and honour the top IP firms and practices, including winners in practice specialties (such as pharma, biotech and life sciences) and by region. We’ve also named a National IP Firm of the Year, a national IP Boutique of the Year and an IP Rising Star firm, all of which will be revealed below.
The decisions which follow were made by the Asia IP editorial teams, based on thousands of votes and recommendations received from in-house counsel, senior corporate executives and legal professionals from around the region and around the world, as well as submissions from law firms themselves.
To determine the winning firms, we carefully evaluated each firm’s most important cases, portfolios and other notable work throughout in the past year, in conjunction with the recommendations and comments we received.
We were pleasantly surprised by the quantity and quality of recommendations we received from those who know these IP practices the best. It is clear from the submissions we received that corporate counsel are keen observers of the firms doing work for them; they’re not afraid to praise those firms which do the best work – and they told us which firms aren’t deserving, too.
It is clear, too, that law firms are in a fierce competition with each other to make the case that they are best-situated to serve their clients well. The work firms in India do has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years, and while it once would have been an easy job for us to name the top firms in each practice area, the heightened competition has made it quite challenging now.
While firms in Delhi and the National Capital Region still command the majority of the intellectual property work in India, firms in other parts of the country are increasingly competitive with each other and with firms in the NCR. Thus, we included regional awards for firms based in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru, with Mumbai included as a nod to its long status as India’s commercial-based counterweight to Delhi. Each of the other regional cities are known for different areas of commerce, each with its own intellectual property rights to protect: Ahmedabad for textiles; Kolkata for being an artistic and cultural capital; Chennai as the “Detroit of India,” home to a third of the country’s automobile manufacturing; and Bengaluru as a technology hub, hosting the headquarters of more than 250 software companies.
And, finally, let us include a few housekeeping statements. Our first India IP Awards recognize only domestic Indian law firms; any work done by international firms or firms from other countries was not considered. Detailing the achievements of every single winner in this feature is not possible, so it is important to say that each winning firm in each category carries the same weight and has earned the award equally. Winning firms are presented here by alphabetical order, and not in any other fashion. For each of the regional awards and for the National IP Firm of the Year award, there is a single winner and one or more runners-up, each of which are also presented alphabetically. And finally, Asia IP wishes to congratulate each of our winners!
National IP Firm of the Year
The winner of our inaugural India IP Awards National IP Firm of the Year is Anand and Anand. The firm is the one of the oldest and largest full-service IP law firms in India, and is known for taking on almost any complex intellectual property challenge. Led by managing partner Pravin Anand and a partnership board of 29 partners and senior director, the firm employs more than 400 people, including more than 100 qualified lawyers and engineers, as well as a CEO, CFO and CIO. The firm, which has offices in New Delhi, Noida, Chennai and Mumbai, can trace its history to 1923, as part of a pioneering parent firm that had branches in Lahore, Calcutta, Delhi and Amristar; when India’s economy was liberalized in the early 1990s, the firm was ready to take on the challenge of a modern world and has been winning awards – and working for some of the world’s leading companies and institutions – ever since, making it a clear winner in this category.
Runners-up in the National IP Firm of the Year category, in alphabetical order, are Remfry & Sagar and Singh & Singh, two firms which challenge Anand and Anand for the top spot in the rankings of most intellectual property rankings.
As it approaches its 200th anniversary, Remfry & Sagar has frequently set the benchmark for legal services in the realm of intellectual property. The firm advises more than 8,000 clients worldwide on trademarks, patents, designs, copyright, geographical indications, domain names and unfair competition issues, including leading businesses and Fortune 500 companies, as well as start-ups, policy-makers and government enterprises. The firm’s legal team of 95 professionals and 155 support staff is well-noted for its competency in both IP prosecution and litigation, and a group of corporate law experts is on board to advise on commercial matters. Founded in 1827, the firm has seen most any legal challenge imaginable, says managing partner Ashwin Julka. “Our long innings gives us unrivalled knowledge of how ideas must be protected, and insights into how even the best idea can fall by the wayside if executed incorrectly,” he says.
Singh & Singh has a leading reputation in intellectual property law and its related areas, including media and telecommunications laws, information technology, arbitration, competition law, and drugs regulatory laws. The firm was founded by Maninder Singh and Prathiba M. Singh. Maninder Singh, both of whom were later designated as senior advocates and retired from the firm. Since then, it has run as a professionally managed firm, which currently has five partners and four associate partners, and more than 40 other attorneys and patent agents. The firm has rich experience in litigation, advisory, regulatory, prosecution and enforcement work. Singh & Singh has received many domestic and international awards, both individually and as a firm, and is consistently ranked in top tiers by domestic and international publications.
IP Boutiques of the Year
Founded in New Delhi in 2018 by Rahul Beruar and Nidhi Jain, Beruar & Beruar offers a spectrum of legal advice and assists a wide base of clients ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies and global law firms on both contentious and non-contentious issues pertaining to intellectual property laws as well as general commercial laws. The firm is particularly noted for having adopted a state-of-the-art infrastructure and using the latest technology. The firm’s New Delhi office is complemented by branches in Mumbai and Ranchi.
Founded and headquartered in Kolkata, L.S. Davar & Co. is a full-service intellectual property law firm founded in1932; it operates today as one of the oldest IP law firms in India, led by chairman and patent lawyer G. S. Davar and managing partner Joshita Davar Khemani. The firm protects and enforces portfolios for a wide variety of clients, including Fortune 500 companies across many sectors, and the Indian government and government entities. The firm provides services throughout South Asia with a network of associated firms.
Based in the National Capital Region, SKS Law Associates commenced legal practice in September 2007 with a vision of providing clients with services that create and effectively manage intellectual property in the prevailing and evolving Indian and international IP regime. The firm is led by Sunita K. Sreedharan, a prolific writer and speaker known for her ability to cast a discerning eye upon unique problems in the IP sector. The firm boasts a team of attorneys with advanced degrees in chemistry, plant sciences, biotechnology, electronics and telecommunications, and provides services in highly specialized fields.
ZeusIP is the epitome of a modern law firm in India. The firm uses a custom electronic database that keeps track of important deadlines and dates pertaining to each client’s portfolio; the database has been designed with the specific objective of tracking and sharing data by way of status updates, which managing partner Gunjan Paharia says keeps clients updated on its matters, reduces communication delays and saves time. The firm boasts five partner-level lawyers, a principal associate and four senior associates.
Practice Area Awards
Enforcement Firms of the Year
The winners of our inaugural India IP Awards Enforcement Firms of the Year, in alphabetical order, are: Anand and Anand; AZB & Partners; Remfry & Sagar; RNA, Technology and IP Attorneys;and ZeusIP.
Anand and Anand has a history of successful efforts in the IP enforcement trade. The firm is noted for its advice in both civil and criminal proceedings, its ability to stem to flow of counterfeits and its ability to recover meaningful damages. It has a highly effective customs team, as well. The firm works for a collection of the world’s best companies, including those in apparel, electronics and consumer goods, automotive, IT and software and pharmaceutical goods. Partner Saif Khan heads the enforcement practice.
AZB & Partners regularly advises clients on protection and enforcement strategies in India, including undertaking anti-counterfeiting actions and other contentious proceedings. Partners Nandan Pendsey in Mumbai and Akhilesh Kumar Rai in Gurugram are highly recognized lawyers who are trusted by domestic and multinational clients alike. The firm is recognized for its work conducting brand and IP audits, including IP management practices, and for providing border enforcement strategies for some of the world’s most famous brands.
Remfry & Sagar provides top-notch search and watch services, and is noted for its expertise in conducting due diligence exercises, market investigations and surveys. But where it really shines is in enforcement actions, including those that seek to address piracy and counterfeiting concerns. The firm boasts pan-India capabilities for IP investigations and enforcement programs; it also handles domain name disputes before all major domain name dispute resolution forums including WIPO/National Arbitration Forum and .INRegistry/NIXI.
Based in Gurugram, RNA, Technology and IP Attorneys has an enforcement team made up of specialist IP lawyers, investigators, and other IP professionals. Clients say that the firm is skilled at determining the most appropriate course of action before advising on enforcement strategy. Over the past decade, the firm has handled more than 500 IP infringement and counterfeiting cases in a wide range of industry sectors, from pharmaceuticals to IT and electronics and clothing and FMCG to luxury goods. Firm founder Ranjan Narula says the firm’s success rate, in both preliminary injunction applications and final judgment, is over 90%.
ZeusIP uses its strong relationships with local law enforcement and India’s Customs department to formulate comprehensive IP enforcement programs at borders and ports involving interdiction of infringing and counterfeit imports and exports. Clients praise the firm for its handling of proceedings at ports and borders, as well for its work with follow-up meetings with local law enforcement bodies and Customs officials. The firm has conducted trainings of Customs officials, as well, and has a strong litigation team when needed. Managing partner Gunjan Paharia is a key contact for enforcement matters.
IP Litigation Firms of the Year
The winners of our inaugural India IP Awards IP Litigation Firms of the Year, in alphabetical order, are: Anand and Anand, Lall & Sethi, Remfry & Sagar, Saikrishna & Associates and Singh & Singh.
If there’s a high-profile intellectual property case in India, there’s a good chance that there’s an Anand and Anand lawyer involved. Pravin Anand is an acclaimed litigator who has a bookcase full of landmark cases of his own, including the Ferid Allani case, which paved the way for software patenting in India; the Christian Louboutin case, which protected the “red sole” as a single-colour trademark; and Philips v. Bhagirathi, India’s first standard essential patent case, which recognized principles like FRAND and granting damages to the plaintiff. Litigation partner Vaishali Mittal has represented clients in her own high-profile cases.
The litigation team at Lall & Sethi is well-regarded in the region, where it particularly excels in the life sciences sector. The firm is also noted for its work in technology, media and entertainment. Raghav Malik and Jyotideep Kaur are key partners at the firm; Lall & Sethi’s IP management software was developed in-house.
Remfry & Sagar boasts separate IP litigation and patent litigation teams. Its patent litigation team has pioneered patent litigation in India’s post-TRIPS regime, advising, and acting on behalf of, leading international pharmaceutical companies on seminal matters, including Section 3(d) of the Patents Act and the issue of compulsory licensing. It has also been heavily involved in telecom disputes involving FRAND licensing agreements in standard essential patents. Its IP litigation team has expertise in trademarks, copyright, designs, GIs and domain names. The firm is known for a business-friendly focus on managing exposure to risk and providing solutions to complex litigation.
Full-service firm Saikrishna & Associates is preparing to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2021. The firm’s 19 partners and more than 100 lawyers are led by managing partner Saikrishna Rajagopal, who has been associated with an extensive array of civil, commercial and criminal litigation in India for various Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 clients, including some of the country’s leading IP cases, ranging from pharmaceutical patents, telecom standard essential patents and related FRAND issues and patent infringement litigation, competition law/anti-trust issues, anti-piracy litigation and the issuance of court-mandated guidelines to streamline the admissibility of investigative evidence in relation to Anton Pillar orders.
Singh & Singh has long been known as one of India’s leading IP litigation firms. The firm recently advised Dish TV in a case in which the Delhi Hight Court restrained Prasar Bharti from infringing the trademark of Dish TV by adopting the mark “DD Free Dish” or any other mark incorporating the word “Dish” for its direct-to-home TV service. Partner Bitika Sharma is frequently called upon to handle complex patent litigation in the biotech, pharma and chemicals sector; partner Sudeep Chaterjee handles high-profile infringement matters relating to copyright and trademarks and domain-related issues, including filing of UDRP complaints.
IP Prosecution Firms of the Year
Anand and Anand is regularly one of the top filers in the country in all aspects of intellectual property, from patents and trademarks to copyrights and geographical indications. The trademarks prosecution, contractual IP and commercial IP practice is led by senior partner Safir Anand, who also maintains a very busy practice of his own, advising clients from a multitude of industries on strategy, business models, marketing, commercial insights. Senior partner Archana Shanker head the firm’s patents and designs practice, where she is noted for her excellent work in complex patent prosecution and is credited with advising the government on much of the country’s existing patent law.
Mumbai-based Khaitan & Co., a top-rated full-service law firm, boasts a strong IP practice, one of the largest such practices among India’s full-service firms. The firm works with clients from a a range of sectors, including pharmaceuticals, chemicals, mechanical engineering, technology and retail. With more than 15 years of experience, partner Shailendra Bhandare is noted for his work on prosecutions, enforcements, contentious matters, management and transactional work. The firm has recently worked for Amazon on trademark matters, including advising on prosecution and registration matters and portfolio management.
LexOrbis, based in New Delhi and with offices in Mumbai and Bengaluru, is led by the dynamic Manisha Singh and offers strong filing and prosecution skills across practice areas. The firm is noted for its work in developing the brand images that go along with trademarks, and for its work identifying names and slogans that are truly unique – and which clients will be able to clear and, ultimately, register, both as trademarks and as domain names. The firm also has a strong record addressing cybersquatters.
IP powerhouse Remfry & Sagar is a go-to firm for multinationals in India. The firm advises on the full spectrum of prosecution of intellectual property, taking into account local regulations, long term enforceability criteria and the commercial objectives of its clients. Remfry & Sagar is noted for its proficiency in search procedures and opposition and cancellation proceedings, handling registration formalities, and ensuring post-registration maintenance, including renewal and restoration of trademarks. Partner Swarup Kumar comes recommended; his practice includes rendering patentability opinions, drafting, filing and prosecuting patent applications, handling searches including Freedom to Operate (FTO) searches, filing and arguing pre and post grant oppositions.
Ahmedabad-based Y.J. Trivedi & Co. has 50 years of experience in handling IP matters. The firm handles complex IP matters skillfully; its members have backgrounds in a variety of sectors, including chemistry, engineering and biology. Senior partner Jatin Trivedi has been practicing both as an advocate and as a patent and trademark attorney since 1999. He was recently appointed as a regional consultant at the World Intellectual Property Organization with an aim to provide technical assistance to the member countries of WIPO in effectively acceding to the Madrid Protocol.
Licensing & Franchising
The winners of our inaugural India IP Awards Licensing & Franchising Firms of the Year, in alphabetical order, are: Anand and Anand; Khurana & Khurana; Remfry & Sagar; RNA, Technology and IP Attorneys;and Y.J. Trivedi & Co.
Khurana & Khurana is a full-service IP and commercial law firm known for its business-centric work. The firm works with its sister concern, IIPRD, an international IP licensing, technology consulting and patent support firm to help clients with commercialization, valuation, licensing, technology transfer and due diligence of their IP assets. Tarun Khurana handles a wide variety of licensing work, focusing on software, electronics and mechanical work; Meenakshi Khurana handles signifcant pharmaceutical and life sciences work. Varun Khurana heads up the firm’s valuation practice, and is managing partner of the associated Khurana Khurana & Associates Chartered Accountants.
Pharma, Biotech & Life Sciences
The winners of our inaugural India IP Awards Pharma, Biotech & Life Sciences Firms of the Year, in alphabetical order, are: Anand and Anand, Rahul Chaudhry & Partners, Remfry & Sagar, Singh & Singh and Saikrishna & Associates.
Rahul Chaudhry & Partners is a full-service law firm formed 35 years ago in Delhi as Lall Lahiri & Salhotra. Led today by the charismatic Rahul Chaudhry, the firm’s 55 lawyers, nine partners and a support staff of more than 100, takes a business-centric approach to its work. The firm has a strong litigation team which practices in front of the country’s court and administrative agencies whenever necessary. The firm counts MNCs, private companies, conglomerates, government organizations, public sector undertakings and non-profit organizations among its clients.
Technology, Media & Telecoms
The winners of our inaugural India IP Awards Technology, Media & Telecoms Firms of the Year, in alphabetical order, are: Anand and Anand, AZB & Partners, Lall & Sethi, Remfry & Sagar and RNA, Technology and IP Attorneys.
New Delhi & NCR Firm of the Year
The winner of our inaugural India IP Awards New Delhi and NCR Firm of the Year is Lall & Sethi. The runners-up, in alphabetical order, are RNA, Technology and IP Attorneys and Rahul Chaudhry & Partners.
Mumbai Firm of the Year
The winner of our inaugural India IP Awards Mumbai Firm of the Year is Krishna & Saurastri. The runners-up, in alphabetical order, are Khaitan & Co. and R.K. Dewan & Co.
Krishna & Saurastri is a full-service IP firm that puts a focus on provide top-notch, affordable services to its clients. The firm is led by the indomitable Sunil Krishna, who is particularly noted for his work in trademark prosecution and IP counseling, particularly in the development of IP portfolios, licensing and joint ventures. Manish Saurastri, the firm’s other name partner, is called upon frequently in IP matters involving divestitures and joint ventures, anti-counterfeiting measures, transactions, confidentiality, data protection and passing off. In addition to its headquarters in Mumbai, the firm has offices in Gurugram, Pune, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad.
Founded nearly 60 years ago, today R.K. Dewan & Co is led by Mohan Dewan, a doyen of intellectual property rights in India. Dewan, who has practiced for nearly 50 years, is an exceptional litigator and has also prosecuted thousands of patent specifications, obtaining more than 5,000 patents for Indian and overseas clients. The firm has pioneered anti-counterfeiting strategies. Niti Dewan is a medical doctor and a patent and trademark attorney who heads the firm’s patents department and handles the firm’s business development, finance and administration operations. She has more than 15 years of experience in IP.
Ahmedabad Firm of the Year
The winner of our inaugural India IP Awards Ahmedabad Firm of the Year is Y.J. Trivedi & Co. The runner-up is H.K. Acharya & Company.
H.K. Acharya & Company was established in 1977 in Ahmedabad, and is one of the region’s most visible firms. Led today by the personable Rajeshkumar Acharya, the firm has a reputation for quality work. Acharya holds an M.S. in chemistry and a doctorate in pharmaceutical chemistry, and is registered to practice before the Indian and Canadian patent and trademark offices. Harsha R. Acharya is the firm’s managing partner; she brings an in-depth understanding of business strategies.
Bengalaru Firm of the Year
The winner of our inaugural India IP Awards Bengaluru Firm of the Year is Krishnamurthy & Co. The runner-up is King Stubb & Kasiva.
Krishnamurthy & Co, also known as K Law, is a full-service law firm with more than 85 lawyers. Nikhil Krishnamurthy heads the firm’s intellectual property and media and entertainment divisions at K Law; he has considerable experience in IP litigation, prosecution, licensing and enforcement matters and has managed the IP enforcement campaigns of leading luxury and pharmaceutical brands and software companies. He has represented a wide array of clients in the media and entertainment and IT industries, including music publishers, collecting societies, authors and composers, radio stations, film production houses, record labels, actors, performing artists, fashion designers, models, intermediaries, and internet market platforms.
King Stubb & Kasiva has been a key player in the Indian intellectual property arena for more than a decade. The results-oriented firm also has key food; health care, pharma and life sciences; IT; and TMT practices which complement the IP practice. The team has stellar reputations for TMT sourcing and disputes, intellectual property litigation and brand protection as well as data protection work. Its clients include parts of the Tata group, Johnson Controls, Make My Trip, Aviva and Lenovo. Bengaluru-based anaging partner Jidesh Kumar is noted for his technology transfer, due diligence and corporate work.
Chennai Firm of the Year
The winner of our inaugural India IP Awards Chennai Firm of the Year is Altacit Global. The runner-up is Selvam & Selvam.
Altacit Global is a multi-practice law firm with a significant focus on intellectual property and franchising law; it also has corporate, real estate and family law practices. The firm offers a spectrum of IP services from trademark design and copyright law to handling related litigation against infringement of all such rights, including drafting patent specifications, and preparing and filing Indian and foreign applications. The firm also advises on licensing, transfer of intellectual property and software developing licensing. The firm’s “franchise programme” is designed to assist business from conception of an idea to its inception.
Raja Selvam started Selvam & Selvam in 2007 as a boutique IP firm. With over nine years of experience, he focuses his practice on all aspects related to trademark and domain disputes including prosecution, litigation, IP transactions like licensing and transfers, IP audits and due diligence, and brand acquisition and market entry. The firm was recently involved in the consolidation of the trademark portfolio of an Indian FMCG Fortune 500 Company subsequent to their de-merger. The firm counts 24 Hour Fitness, Workday, Cartier, Fromageries Bel, Crabtree & Evelyn and Xerox among its clientele.
Kolkata Firm of the Year
The winner of our inaugural India IP Awards Kolkata Firm of the Year is S. Majumdar & Co. The runner-up is L.S. Davar & Co.
S. Majumdar & Co is a full-service intellectual property firm with expertise in diverse areas of technology, including engineering, telecommunications, software, electronics, chemistry, pharmaceuticals and life sciences. The firm handles most IP matters, and is involved in IPR awareness programmes organized by the Government of India, IITs and other technical institutions. The firm is led by Subhatosh Majumdar, who has more 30 years of experience as an practitioner and is an acclaimed litigator in all areas of IP law. He also leads the firm’s patent contentious team, handling matters in biochemistry, electronics and others.
Rising Star Award
Ira Law was founded in New Delhi in 2018 by four Anand and Anand alumni, including the well-respected Binny Kalra. The firm runs as a lean-but-experienced machine, handling civil and commercial IP matters with a team of nine professionals, two-thirds of whom are women. Krutikka Vijay is noted for her contentious work, having been part of the team that represented the patentee before the High Court of Delhi in the first contentious pharmaceutical product patent litigation in India which went to trial. “Ira” – ईरा – is a Sanskrit word meaning “goddess of wisdom,” a fitting name for this up-and-coming firm.