Ananya Singh: IPR’s Innovative Legal Contributor to the Nation Building

Ananya Singh

Similar to our tangible property of physical assets, brain’s intangible mind’s Intellectual Property (IP) in the form of thoughts, imaginations, innovations, and ideas culminating into patentable products, processes, models, theories, algorithms, applications, software, and more so must be protected as they are vulnerable to theft, stealing, hijacking, kidnapping, and other crimes.

As a scientifically and technologically intelligent mind can create IPs, a legally smart brain-force is capable of coming up with judicial solutions to prevent, protect, and pursue a legal course in the unfortunate instances of something unavoidable.

In the digitally advancing corporate world, this smart legal mind must be scientifically accentuated and technologically adept at offering comprehensive services encompassing the widest Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protocols, laws, rules, and regulations available under the purview of the law of the land. And if no solution is available in the ever-evolving legal landscape, then that mind must be pragmatic enough to envision inventive solutions that could become novel IPR laws, contributing to the development of the business world, society, and the country at large.

Coming from a family of bureaucrats, Ananya Singh, the Managing Associate at Lall & Sethi, was interested in pursuing Civil Services and contributing towards the country’s development, which is why she decided to pursue law. However, at an age when her passions and interests were still developing, Ananya never knew that she would foray into the Intellectual Property Industry. “I recall in my final year of law, I was given the topic ‘Role of Intellectual Property Rights Institutions in Nation Building and Governance of Innovation’ for my dissertation,” she says. In the process of researching and preparing her dissertation, she developed a keen interest in this field. After that, when Ananya interned and learned about the practical aspects of the IP field, she decided to build her practice as an IP attorney.

The Exceptional Saga of an Evolving Personae

She adds, “Even as an IP attorney, I believe that I am, in a way contributing to the development and growth of the country.” With the ever-growing start-up culture in India and India being ranked 63rd amongst the 100 countries for “ease of doing business” (as of 2022), more and more businesses are being established in the country. Even companies located abroad are venturing into the country and starting their business operations. These businesses realize the value of protecting their Intellectual Properties and enforcing them in the country. As an IP attorney, Ananya assists these businesses by advising on IP protection strategies and enforcing their IPs against third parties.

Ananya has always been a meritorious student, who first studied at the Convent of Jesus and Mary, New Delhi and completed law (five years) from Amity University, Noida, in 2014. She recalls the moment when she attained the All India Rank 820 in the CLAT exam and was allotted a seat in the Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala. “However, I could not pursue my law studies in RGNUL due to certain family adversities.” Though, it never deterred her. She is proud to have achieved all what she has today, owing to her hard work and incessant support from friends, family, and mentors.

It was in and around April 2014 that Ananya began her internship in the well-known IP boutique firm ‘United IPR,’ located in Sukhdev Vihar, New Delhi. On the verge of completing her internship, she was offered the position of Associate in the firm. In her two years of working with United IPR, Ananya has worked on matters related to trademark prosecution, design infringement, search and seizure actions, and IP prosecution at the territorial borders with the Customs Authorities in India. She joined Lall & Sethi in February 2017, and as of today, she has completed more than eight years of experience in IP prosecution and enforcement.  

In the Company of Technological Advancements

Lall & Sethi is an Intellectual Property (IP) boutique firm in South Extension, New Delhi. Founded by prominent lawyers, Mr. Chander M Lall and Mr. Sandeep Sethi, both of whom are designated Senior Advocates, L&S provides services including filing, prosecution of applications, oppositions, and cancellation proceedings, searching and watching services, renewals, licensing, title clearances, gap analysis, advisory work in the field of trademarks, copyright, designs, patents, confidential information and trade secrets, entertainment, and sports laws, information technology laws.

The firm is one of the first to be completely paperless and operates on an in-house IP Management software called “CLICKIPR,” which ensures that timely responses are sent and deadlines are strictly adhered to.   

As an IP attorney at Lall & Sethi, Ananya is responsible for trademark and design portfolio management, which includes advising clients through all stages of prosecution, opposition proceedings, cancellation/rectification proceedings of trademarks and designs, and attending hearings before the Trade Marks Registry. She also specializes in IP enforcement measures with the Customs Authorities. She also provides title and brand clearance services and advises on mitigation strategies for the use and registration of a trademark, trade names, titles of movies and TV series, taglines, slogans, designs, and copyright.

She has assisted well-known brands in registering their marks as well-known trademarks and advised on opinions for protecting non-conventional marks as trademarks in India. “I have been engaged in organizing Pan-India brand protection trainings and workshops, on behalf of brand owners, with various Customs Offices in India wherein the Customs Officials are sensitized about the product identification features distinguishing genuine and counterfeit products imported into India,” she says.

Turning Challenges into Opportunities at the Onset

However, her journey was not without difficulties, challenges, and obstacles. Ananya recalls that initially, the paramount issue she faced at the time of starting her practice was a lack of digitization of official records. Most of the firms used physical files for record keeping of documents, meaning most of the papers were either misplaced or lost. However, it was only at the time of the Pandemic that the importance of digitization of documents was realized.

The legal fraternity, including the top courts in India, shifted to the system of virtual hearings and virtual record-keeping of documents, which has benefited the fraternity as a whole. She says, “I have been lucky enough to be a part of a firm that was one of the first “paperless” firms in India.” Because of this, the transition from physical record-keeping and attending hearings to the system of virtual hearings and digital documents has been a smooth ride for Ananya.

The benefits of the virtual system have been realized by the Trade Marks Registry as well. At the beginning of 2022, once the impact of the Pandemic had reduced in the country, the Delhi and Chennai Trade Marks Registry started appointing physical hearings for opposition matters. However, the Registry has gradually shifted to virtual hearings for all opposition and rectification matters. Even the practitioners in Delhi can now attend hearings for their matters before the Chennai Registry, which has, in the long run, be extremely beneficial for the firms and individual IP practitioners. 

The Futuristic Virtual Shift

Elaborating more on technological advancements, she says the Pandemic saw a drastic change wherein not only the Courts but also the tribunals shifted to the virtual system of filings, service of documents, and hearings. The Trade Marks Registries Pan-India have started fixing hearings through the virtual mode wherein Applicants/Opponents from all over the country can now attend hearings for their oppositions/applications, which have been filed in different jurisdictions. This has boosted law firms’ business and helped IP practitioners create a rapport with the hearing officers in the Trade Marks Registry.  

IP management software is another example of how law firms provide seamless deliverables to their clients today. She states, “I am proud to be associated with one of the first firms which is completely electronic and has developed its in-house IP management software ‘CLICKIPR.” The software has IP law engines for all jurisdictions worldwide, ensuring automated docketing of files worldwide and populating of forms. The docketing systems have a minimal manual interface, virtually eliminating human errors. The files are completely electronic and digital. 

On the Journey of Perpetual Learnings

Sharing the factors of legal expertise that make her stand out as an influential lawyer, Ananya says they include,

First generation lawyer in the family. Attained opportunities at well-known firms through self-grit and dedication. “Adaptable, dedicated, hard-working, and passionate about my work.” 

Trying to achieve that work-life balance by pursuing interests in music, literature, and travelling. 

Passionate about photography. “Keeping myself abreast with the legal developments in the world,” she claims.

In her advice to budding legal professionals aspiring to step into the legal field today, Ananya says that one will not learn everything from books. While being good at one’s studies is extremely important, their learning is never complete unless they have practical experience. While interning, a young professional must go to the courts, sit through hearings and make notes of everything they have witnessed during the day.

“Ask questions – no matter how big or small you doubt; you must always ask questions from superiors. One must not give up. I have always practiced a ‘never to no to work’ attitude. I have always been open to learning new aspects of the law, which has helped me grow as a legal practitioner. Keep yourself updated with the latest judgments and developments in the legal field. This is very important,” she concludes.  

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