Asia IP’s editorial team reveals India’s top IP firms, practices
30 November 2021
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; Covid-19 has contributed to this by forcing many hearings and trials that were once held in person online. We have heard from many of India’s IP lawyers and law firms about how much more efficiently they are able to use their time as the legal system has improved, which we expect will continue to make India one of Asia’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 released our 2021 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. The 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!
|Anand and Anand|
|Remfry & Sagar|
The winner of Asia IP’s 2021 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 directors, 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.
K&S Partners made its name through prosecution work, and today is one of the country’s top IP firms, with more than 110 IP professionals and 260 staff members working in offices in Bengaluru, Chennai, Gurugram, Hyderabad, Mumbai and New Delhi. Today, the firm continues to handle prosecution work, as well as advisory work (including searches, opinions and analysis), protection work (such as anti-counterfeiting actions, border enforcement and litigation) and transactional work, including due diligence in M&A transactions, licensing and other transactional support. Managing partner Jyoti Sagar has been practicing law since 1976; he also founded J. Sagar Associates (JSA), a leading full-service commercial firm that works hand-in-hand with K&S Partners.
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, including leading businesses and Fortune 500 companies, as well as start-ups, policy-makers and government enterprises, including the World Trade Centers Association in ongoing enforcement work in which damages to the tune of Rs5 million (US$75,000) have been claimed. 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. The firm opened its fourth office in Mumbai in April 2021.
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 state-of-the-art infrastructure and using the latest technology. The firm’s New Delhi headquarters are complemented by branches in Mumbai and Ranchi.
Groverlaw, founded in 2013 by former Remfry & Sagar lawyer Vikram Grover, makes its first appearance in the India IP Awards. The firm, a full-service, Gurugram-based IP boutique, also provides advisory and litigation services in matters relating to corporate and commercial laws. The firm has established itself as an important player in Indian legal circles. The boutique law firm offers a wide spectrum of IP services, from protection, portfolio management, enforcement, prosecution, opposition and cancellation to search, clearance and monitoring, and is particularly noted for its ability to react quickly through its comprehensive use of smart technology.
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, five 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.
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, managing partner Joshita Davar Khemani and principal group director Sourabh 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 boasts an average client retention rate of more than 30 years.
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 heads 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.
Krishna & Saurastri is a full-service IP firm that puts a focus on provide top-notch, affordable services to its clients. Manish Saurastri, one the firm’s name partners, is called upon frequently in IP matters involving divestitures and joint ventures, anti-counterfeiting measures, transactions, confidentiality, data protection and passing off. Anshul Sunil Saurastri is noted for his work on patent, trademark and design application preparation and prosecution, as well as his litigation work. The firm’s other name partner, Sunil Krishna, is particularly noted for his work in trademark prosecution and IP counseling, particularly in the development of IP portfolios, licensing and joint ventures; he now serves the firm in a consultant role. In addition to its headquarters in Mumbai, the firm has offices in Gurugram, Pune, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad.
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. The firm boasts a large team of attorneys, trademark agents, paralegals and legal assistants who can help with portfolio creation and management, and in filing and prosecuting before the trademark office; on the patent side, the firm is proficient in filing and validating rights, with a team dedicated to docketing instructions and timelines, and ensuring compliancewith all procedural formalities.
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.
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 is widely known for her own high-profile battles in the SEP realm, as well as many other important Indian patent 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. Tia Malik is the firm’s managing partner; she is known for her expertise in tech, media, fashion and pharma, among others. Anju Khanna leads the firm’s patent litigation efforts, while Nancy Roy is a litigation partner at the firm; Roy appears frequently before courts all over India, including the country’s high courts and supreme court. Lall & Sethi’s IP management software was developed in-house.
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 70 lawyers, 10 partners and a support staff of more than 110 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, including the high courts and supreme court. The firm counts MNCs, private companies, conglomerates, government organizations, public sector undertakings and non-profit organizations among its clients.
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.
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; he was named Counsel of the Year for IPR ligitation at the Indian National Bar Association’s Annual International Conference in 2021.
Practice Area Awards
|Anand and Anand|
|Rahul Chaudhry & Partners|
|Remfry & Sagar|
|RNA, Technology and IP Attorneys|
The winners of our 2021 India IP Awards Enforcement Firms of the Year, in alphabetical order, are: Anand and Anand; Inttl Advocare; Rahul Chaudhry & Partners; Remfry & Sagar; and RNA, Technology and IP Attorneys.
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.
New Delhi-based Inttl Advocare is a full-service IP firm which was established in 1991 by noted litigator Hemant Singh. The firm’s clientele includes leading brands in foods and beverages, liquor, garments, cosmetics, FMCG, computer software, pharmaceuticals and other sectors; it has undertaken civil and criminal enforcement actions including seizure of infringing and counterfeit goods and seeking compensatory and punitive damages, working with Customs authorities under border control measures to prevent infringing and unlawful import and export, conducting investigations and conducting proceedings against cybersquatters. Senior partner Preetika Singh brings three decades of experience to the firm and receives high praise from clients for her work, which includes oppositions, rectification, litigation and dispute resolution.
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 70 lawyers, 10 partners and a support staff of more than 110 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, and handles related enforcement matters such as conducting field investigations and issuing cease and desist notices. The firm counts MNCs, private companies, conglomerates, government organizations, public sector undertakings and non-profit organizations among its clients.
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%.
|Anand and Anand|
|AZB & Partners|
|Krishna & Saurastri|
|Krishnamurthy & Co. (K Law)|
|RNA, Technology and IP Attorneys|
The winners of our 2021 India IP Awards Licensing & Franchising Firms of the Year, in alphabetical order, are: Anand and Anand; AZB & Partners; Krishna & Saurastri; Krishnamurthy & Co (K Law) and RNA, Technology and IP Attorneys.
AZB & Partners regularly advises clients on protection and enforcement strategies in India, including undertaking anti-counterfeiting actions and other contentious proceedings. Partner Nandan Pendsey in Mumbai is a highly recognized lawyer who is trusted by domestic and multinational clients alike; he brings significant licensing experience to the firm. 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.
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. He was involved in litigation of India’s first compulsory license for music broadcast.
|Anand and Anand|
|AZB & Partners|
|Lall & Sethi|
|Remfry & Sagar|
|RNA, Technology and IP Attorneys|
The winners of our 2021 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.
|Anand and Anand|
|Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan|
|S. Majumdar & Co.|
|Singh & Singh|
|SKS Law Associates|
The winners of our 2021 India IP Awards Pharma, Biotech & Life Sciences Firms of the Year, in alphabetical order, are: Anand and Anand, Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan, S. Majumdar & Co., Singh & Singh and SKS Law Associates.
Commercial firm Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan has a sizeable IP team which is noted for its litigation work with high-end technology, including pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and plante breeding. Renowned litigator V. Lakshmikumaran is a founding; life sciences group leader Malathi Lakshmikumaran has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology, with an expertise in plant genomics, DNA fingerprinting and genetic transformation, and in the area of biodiversity and traditional knowledge.
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.
Based in the National Capital Region, SKS Law Associates is highly-focused on life sciences work, employing multiple lawyers with advanced degrees in chemistry, plant sciences, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, phytotherapeutics, agrichemicals, and plant breeding and crop genetics. The firm is led by Sunita K. Sreedharan, who herself has a Master’s degree in cytogenetics and is a prolific writer and speaker known for her ability to cast a discerning eye upon unique problems in the IP sector. She has been empaneled as legal counsel for the Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers’ Rights Authority in India’s Ministry of Agriculture and was legal advisor on the Central Technology Management Institute at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). The firm has offices in New Delhi and Haryana.
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.
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.
|Krishnamurthy & Co. (K Law)|
The winner of our 2021 India IP Awards Bengaluru Firm of the Year is Krishnamurthy & Co (K Law). The runner-up is BananaIP.
BananaIP traces its roots to 2003, when Kalyan Kankanala, a Ph.D. student at the National Law School of India, first conceived of starting an IP firm made up of lawyers with equally strong technology, law and business backgrounds. Kankanala joined forces with Arun Narasani, his childhood friend, and formed Brain League in 2004. The firm has experienced steady growth ever since, and today provides a full-range of IP services across most sectors. The name BananaIP has become an integral part of the firm’s culture. “We assist creators, people who think differently, people who thrive on thinking differently,” says Kankanala. “We are happy to be identified, recognized and remembered as BananaIP Counsels.”
|Selvam & Selvam|
|Rights & Marks|
The winner of our 2021 India IP Awards Chennai Firm of the Year is Selvam & Selvam. The runner-up is Rights & Marks.
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.
Rights & Marks boasts a team of tenacious professionals with both technical and market-based experience who come highly recommended for their work against counterfeiting operations. The firm offers end-to-end solutions, including advanced physical security technologies and supply chain track and trace services. Balajanaki Srinivasan founded the firm in 2001; today, from Chennai, she leads a team of 45 full-time trademark attorneys, lawyers, patent analysts, experts and support staff spread across offices in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Coimbatore and Madurai.
Rising Star Award
Established in March 2021 in Chennai by former Anand and Anand senior partner MS Bharath, KRIA Law prides itself as being a fully digital firm with cloud-based internal and external interactions and transactions and top-of-the-line software for IPR portfolio management, among others. Its practice areas include IP and information technology, litigation & dispute resolution, commercial, taxation, competition and anti-trust and general civil disputes. MS Bharath, a seasoned litigator, strategist and counsellor in the field of IP, has his eyes set on being a national firm with a global reach. The firm’s name is derived from the Sanskrit word kriyā – क्रिया – which refers to the act of being disciplined to achieve a specific result, a concept to which Bharath is no stranger.