Date of birth:
3 August 1971
The name of the law school from which you received your first law degree:
Jabalpur University, Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh) India
Current law firm:
Saikrishna & Associates
Position within the firm:
Details of any past law firms that you have worked for:
1999-2008 – Anand and Anand
2008-2012 – Luthra & Luthra, Law Offices
Key practice areas:
Intellectual Property Litigation, Prosecution (trademarks & Copyrights), Transactions and Policy ; Specialised focus on Media & Entertainment, Software and Technology Litigation, transactions and Policy; Film, Music, Book Publishing representation; Content clearance, due diligence and advisory; Franchising, Merchandising, licensing representation; IP Advisory and transactional support around Corporate/ M&A transactions
Why you chose to focus in these areas:
Intellectual Property has grown in importance steadily in India over the past 15 years. I have always found IP law to be very dynamic, changing and requiring change more frequently than in comparison with other areas of law. Protecting innovation and creativity has always been very satisfying and I continue to see challenges in the coming years. In order to be a good IP lawyer, I feel, you need to love IP! My primary area of interest for the past 10 years has been around the Media & Entertainment Sector. I have seen the industry evolve over the past 15 years to being a world player today and the consequent need to incorporate best practices, preserve rights and reduce liability remains a huge challenge in a sector that has marked double digit growth figures on a year on year basis.
Details of the matter that you have worked on in your career to date that you are most proud of, and why:
I would say that the matter which I am most proud of would be the campaign to amend the Copyright Act in India. During the period of 2008-2013 I advised authors and composers of lyrics and music, creators who had been for decades, due to contracting practices, left out of the revenue streams arising in the media and entertainment sector such as mobile distribution (with annual content based distribution revenues of over $1 billion), digital / online exploitation, FM radio, TV broadcast.
The campaign, which took over three and a half years included daily and monthly representations made to all members of parliament (300+) and all political parties, commissioning and presenting economic studies demonstrating the existence of a monopsony in the film and music industry in Mumbai and the need to correct such market asymmetry, conducting press conferences to provide the campaign visibility, as well as leading evidence before the Joint Parliamentary Standing Committee tasked to overview the amendment legislation. The campaign conducted on behalf of the artists was based on academic assessments, comparative analysis of copyright systems across the world, impact of existing legal frameworks on artists in India on an anecdotal and statistical basis. The new law was enacted by parliament unanimously without a single opposing vote!
The campaign culminated with the enactment, with effect from 21 June 2012 of path-breaking legislation unprecedented in the world which today protects the authors “right to an equal share” of royalties due from the exploitation in any mode or format. This right cannot be assigned or waived thereby protecting artists from “predatory contracts”. The amendments have also resulted in the need for Industry to ensure incorporation of artistes as true stakeholders allowing for a measure of balance between creative and economic interests.
The name of any more senior lawyers that you look up to or consider to be mentors:
I have had a steady mentor and guru for the past 14 years of my career and now have the absolute pleasure of working directly with him. Mr Saikrishna “Sai” Rajagopal, the Managing Partner of my firm Saikrishna & Associates taught me the law when I joined Anand and Anand in 1999. He left Anand and Anand in 2001 to set up Saikrishna & Associates but was always in touch with me and was kind enough to guide me through my career. I joined Saikrishna & Associates from one of India’s best-known full service law firms in July 2012. If I was to point out to why Sai has been an able guide and mentor I would point to his integrity and unwavering ethics. All of Sai’s actions are beyond reproach from this aspect and despite his unfailing and firm commitment to a high ethical standard, he has built a firm to 45 lawyers and 7 Partners today. Sai is known as one of India best IP litigators and continues to notch up impressive litigations wins for our clients. Sai has been a role model for me through my entire career and now with me working with him I have no doubt that many more good things are to come!