Libertatem Magazine

Interview with Yashvardhan Rana, IP Lawyer, Editor at The Trademark Reporter & Top 50 Emerging IP Professional in World

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Yashvardhan Rana is an Intellectual Property Lawyer with a particular focus on IP prosecution – from registrability analysis and risk management to provide legal opinion on the availability of use, adoption and registrability of trademarks to be launched by Fortune 500 companies as well as top FMCG’s in India. He also advises on trademark protection strategies, copyright issues and specific assignments relating to Design Law, certain aspects of strategic brand management and advisory, IP auditing and due diligence to portfolio management, transactional advice and agreement drafting, permitted user/registered user recordals and other procedural compliances. He is based out of New Delhi and is a member of Bar Council of Delhi, Delhi High Court Bar Association, APAA, INTA, LAWASIA and FICCI IP Forum. In January 2020 he was appointed as an Editor, The Trade Mark Reporter, INTA and in November 2019, he was the recipient of the Top 50 Emerging IP Professional in the world award – The IPR Gorilla, 2nd Edition held in Dubai. Recently, he has been inducted as an ‘esteemed member’ of the FICCI IP Forum for IP Professionals to address the existing and evolving IPR issues in India along with stalwarts from the legal industry. He has also authored several articles on Intellectual Property Law and Practice which are published in leading blogs, websites, journals and magazines.

Libertatem Magazine interviewed Mr. Rana recently and had a wonderful conversation about how he decided to do pursue law.

Apuroopa: Why did you decide to pursue law? Why specifically Intellectual Property Rights? Were you always passionate about taking up law as your career? Do you have any mentor or guide who motivated you to take up law?

Yashvardhan Rana: First I asked myself that “Have you got what it takes to lead in a diverse world and make a difference?” Well, to begin with, I chose law as my undergraduate degree to enrich myself about varied laws governing us and but of course – improve upon my analytical skills and critical thinking ability. My academic and professional choices were driven by my continuous search for a fulfilling academic and professional life and what better way to pursue the path of law as opposed to the conventional degrees in Engineering, Medicine or Business. One other major factor that led me to take up law was the sight of my father all dressed up as a lawyer and witnessing his gleaming personality – day in and day out since my boyhood days reading his files, researching, attending meetings at his office. My father’s hard labour and his savoir-faire as an advocate appealed to me. My perspective on life changed following this and it persuaded me to carry forward the legacy.

My entrance into this profession began after pursuing B.B.A., LL.B. (five year integrated course) from my Alma mater Symbiosis Law School, Pune in the year 2008. My yearning for specialised legal knowledge persuaded me to attain an LL.M. from Queen Mary, University of London, one of the top universities in the World in the field of Intellectual Property Law.

The world of brands and fancy logos have always captivated my imagination since my childhood as I’ve seen my parents patronising various brands from multifarious departmental stores in every nook and corner all over the world. Thus, I got immersed and it had further intrigued me to dwell into the world of brands like never before. On another note, I also used to read his files at night in our house chamber of matters pertaining to high stake trademark law matters almost twice or thrice a week in my college holidays. Since I also had an inclination to become a lawyer from my boyhood days and Intellectual Property Law was booming in India, I chose IPR as my specialisation and further wanted to create a niche for myself in this ever-intriguing field of law.

Apuroopa: You graduated from Symbiosis Law School, Pune in 2013. How was your life at Symbiosis? What kind of activities did you take part in as a student? How did Symbiosis help you in shaping your legal career?

Yashvardhan Rana: I wish I could travel back in time to be with my friends with whom I cherish fond memories. At the risk of stating the obvious, I would say I had the time of my life at college. Not only because Symbiosis Law School, Pune is a very good academic institution, but especially the diverse culture, unrestricted environment and the open-mindedness to learn that helped me to assimilate over a period of 5 years, was second to none. I was an introvert before college; this place played an important role in shaping my individuality, ethics, and set of values. On another note – I was active mainly in sports, especially football. Additionally, I ended up interning with Senior Lawyers at the Delhi High Court and Supreme Court including with my father in addition to learning the ropes of Intellectual Property Law under the guidance of Mr Amarjit Singh – renowned IP Litigator. Also, I developed the habit of researching and writing articles and research papers for various blogs, journals and legal repositories,  also made it a point to read case laws every day and keep myself abreast of the latest developments and undertook various Diploma/Certificate courses to supplement my knowledge.

Apuroopa: You did your Masters in Law at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). At what point of time did you decide to pursue LLM? Why did you decide to do your masters from a foreign university? During your Masters at QMUL, you were a member of many organisations such as European Law Student’s Association (ELSA), International Bar Association etc., What kind of skills did you gain being a member of those organisations?

Yashvardhan Rana: After gaining adequate knowledge about the rudiments of law through the various cases I was involved in over the first 2 years as an Associate Attorney in the Litigation Department as part of an Intellectual Property Firm, and having a small taste of how the law shapes its’ citizens, I planned to undertake a much more critical examination of the written words that were crafted to dictate our behaviour by involving myself handling varied contentious and non-contentious matters. Further, I realized that I need to build up a sense of intellectual ability in me and arm myself with the various techniques of analysis and develop a sense of multi-disciplinary approach in a diverse environment that would, in turn, help me grow and broaden my perspective. This urge led me to search for an edifying journey with a stellar reputation for producing the best minds in the world of Intellectual Property Law. It did not come as much of a surprise that “The Queen Mary University of London” fits that criteria, and, in one of the more surreal twists in my life, I decided to take the plunge and thus, applied for further studies.

Looking back and being associated with organizations such as ELSA, IBA,  etc. were a blessing in disguise as it helped me to sharpen my management, writing, listening and researching skills. It further provided me with an insight into the workings and the style of approach that able mentors impart while performing their requisite duties with elan and a sense of responsibility. I also interacted with a lot of people from around the world.

Apuroopa: Apart from your academics, you did many additional courses such as Diploma in Business Law, Intellectual Property Rights, International Commercial Litigation and Arbitration etc. How far the courses helped you?

Yashvardhan Rana: They have definitely helped a lot in having a broad and complete understanding of the law. I would say that students should aim to pursue additional courses from reputed and trustworthy sources and while they are at it they should not develop the habit of hoarding for certificates for the purposes of padding their CV or showcasing them on social networking websites. They should yearn to gain knowledge in the process which would, in turn, help them to add more value to their understanding of basic tenets of the law.

I quote “It takes a distressing incident for us to step back and retrospect. Until then, we relish being one among the herd.” It was this moment when I realized the importance of having an all-round comprehensive approach when it comes to learning. The subject “International Commercial Litigation and Arbitration” from LSE per se did not directly cater to my growth as an IP lawyer; however, it invoked a sense of understanding the law in its complete sense. I was also fortunate enough to pursue additional courses in Entrepreneurship Administration and Business Laws, Research Methodology, Intellectual Property Rights, Expert Certification on filing and obtaining trademarks including Madrid protocol, Legal Advancement Programme, Mediation, Public Accountability, etc. that played a key role in shaping me as a lawyer and what better way to supplement my knowledge in addition to Intellectual Property Law and have an added advantage over my peers.

Apuroopa: Recently, you have penned down many articles and also published some research papers during your student years. Despite your busy schedule, how and when do you find time to write articles? In your opinion, are publishing research papers and writing articles extremely important for a student to pursue a bright legal career?

Yashvardhan Rana: I have a penchant for writing on current developments of law especially concerning the field of Intellectual Property Law. What better way of making use of this time and bringing about awareness about this subject for law students and young lawyers. I am currently in the process of writing a book review for an internationally acclaimed professor/author and also planning to write a few more whenever I manage to squeeze in some time. I make notes in my head, read up latest developments on hot topics, connect the dots, infuse my critical thinking with a dash of preparedness/awareness and conjoin everything together to publish a thought-provoking piece.

Firstly, if you’re getting your work published in renowned blogs, journals, magazines, websites, etc., you should aim to educate and impart knowledge rather than perception building or padding your CV with every other opportunity out there. There are many blogs and journals that are coming up lately and my advice for them would be to focus on the quality of content rather than filling up the pages to increase your visibility.

Do good. Be good. Research thoroughly. Write freely. Learn the hard way and Listen with empathy. Focus. Observe the minutest of details. Do not show off. Be aware. Spread awareness. Have a clean inner conscience. Set your target and achieve. Rest, everything will fall into place.

Apuroopa: Recently, in 2019 you were conferred with ‘Top 50 Emerging IP Players/ Professionals’ in the world award at the 2nd Edition of the IPR Gorilla Conference held at Dubai. How do you feel receiving such a prestigious award? What milestone do you consider the most important to achieve this status and position at which you are right now?

Yashvardhan Rana: It feels good to be awarded alongside stalwarts and young professionals belonging to big law firms and renowned companies from the Intellectual Property law industry and allied fields such as Al Tamimi & Co., Clyde & Co., Reliance Industries, Micro Labs Ltd., Marks & Clerk, Spoor & Fisher, Infosys, Ferrero SpA to name a few. I received this award based on having met five parameters, namely: Overall Reach, Industry Impact, Spirit of Innovation, Future Readiness and Market Demand. After careful consideration of submitted nomination forms — and extensive research, the awards committee rated me with a high aggregate score, ultimately including me in the final Top 50 list of awardees in the world. This is just the start in the right direction; let’s see what the future holds.

I have had many struggles along the way but have overcome them by keeping the right amount of attitude, persistence, compassion and empathy, being curious every day, developing the habit of inculcating smart work in my daily life. Everyone can learn the ropes of law and work hard, however, what sets you apart is your willingness to learn and improving yourself every day, being absolutely honest to your work, and applying and working upon your skill sets that you’ve learned in the process of becoming a lawyer. There have been many milestones till date – from associating myself with high stake reportable judgments concerning trademark law in my litigation days – to publishing a book – to being one of the editors in a world-renowned journal during my post-graduation, etc. – however, I’ll refrain myself here for the sake of going into the specificities as I feel there is a long way to go and my journey has only begun.

Apuroopa: You started your career as an Associate Attorney at Amarjit & Associates and now you are an Associate at Inttl Advocare where you deal with Trademark, Copyright and Design Prosecution. How were your early days in the legal industry as an associate? What kind of challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

Yashvardhan Rana: In our ever-more inter-disciplinary and inter-connected world, innovations and laws inform and influence each other, ultimately emerging in response to each other. Generally speaking, Law is an ever-evolving subject of expertise and it takes a few months before a fresh graduate is of any use for an experienced lawyer. I would say that I got lucky back in the day and got through with persistence and hard work (smart work was not the “in” thing at that moment), in turn becoming a trainee associate over there for a period for 2 years approximately. I got an overview of how to climb the ropes of law and the continuous determination required to become a successful lawyer. I was involved in matters pertaining to Trade Mark and Copyright Law particularly and from the very start, I was given the chance to accustom myself of what lies ahead being thrown in the deep blue sea comprising of big fishes catering to hungry sharks involving high stake matters. Also, a big shout out to my seniors back then who had helped me a lot in understanding the procedural aspects of law.

In the stifling hustle-bustle inside and outside the courtrooms, inspiration from stalwarts, restless clients, and legal professionals, I found my place. And in the field of IP, I believe I can find the knowledge, and thus the power, to make my cause a reality.

Apuroopa: You have been working in many renowned law firms. After gaining so much experience working at such prestigious law firms, how would you like to describe a typical workday of an IP Lawyer?

Yashvardhan Rana: Being associated with such firms, it is obviously very demanding — entailing challenging work assignments on a daily basis that push you to your limit. However, it encourages you to calibrate, augment your skills, adapt and respond to newer challenges and opportunities every day. I have had the opportunity of conducting registrability analysis and risk management, providing legal opinion on the use, adoption and registrability of trademarks to be launched by Fortune 500 companies as well as top FMCG’s in India, overcoming objections raised by the registry, advising on trademark protection strategies, brand protection, copyright issues concerning protection and viability, trademark assignments, assisting in matters relating to Design Law, certain aspects of strategic brand management and advisory, IP auditing and due diligence to portfolio management of some of the assigned clients, transactional advice and agreement drafting, permitted user/registered user recordals and other procedural compliances relating to renewals, journals, registration and post-registration matters, in the past two to three years apart from my exposure in IP litigation initially when I started out.

It ultimately depends on the area of law that interests you the most and the kind of work you want to undertake which is suitable for you in the long run. However, I shifted out from Litigation to Prosecution due to long hours and irregular schedule which had taken a toll on my health. I am not suggesting that I am not cut out for litigation but the circumstances were such I had to make a choice. There is a lot of disparity between the two and I assure you that we will give them a run for their money in times to come.

Apuroopa: The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been felt worldwide and across all business sectors. In your opinion, how did the pandemic affect the IPR prosecution?

Yashvardhan Rana: Everything was online as it is before from online filing to correspondence to video hearings except a few matters wherein physical presence was a must. The things are almost the same, however, to be fully functional and effective the Government and big firms need to instil confidence in their employees and trust them rather than laying them off or cutting their salaries. They should use this opportunity to build a communion of trust and mutual respect like never before for each other which would, in turn, be beneficial for both, in the long run, achieving heights like never before.

Governments should focus on providing/streamlining state-of-the-art mechanism in place for the smooth functioning of matters whether it be an uninterrupted world-class software-driven virtual hearings, AI technology, the introduction of blockchain management or setting up of new courts/tribunals, hiring experts via lateral entry after a thorough examination, etc.. This can very well become the new norm apart from the various measures already taken.

Apuroopa: Lastly, what would be your advice to Law students and Law graduates who are looking forward to doing specialization in IPR?

Yashvardhan Rana: Prior practical experience along with an LL.M. degree does make it much smoother and gives you an edge in interviews (largely depends on the policy and outlook of the firm that you’re applying to), however, I tend to believe that if you’ve got the rigour, discipline, right amount of attitude, persistence, certain skill sets that are in demand and the willingness to learn and unlearn – nothing can stop you from achieving your goal.

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