In Conversation With Yashwant Rai Grover, Senior Associate, Inttl Advocare

In this interview with Ashima Ohri our Managing Editor, Yashwant shares his journey in law, his thoughts on joining the BW Legal World Elite 40 Under 40 Club of Achievers 2021 with the prestigious BW Legal World 40 Under 40 Best Lawyers and Legal Influencers Award.

How and when did you know becoming a lawyer was your life’s true calling? 

Born in a family of lawyers, since my childhood, I have seen my grandfather don the black coat. In fact, this dress comprises some of my earliest memories. Accompanying my grandfather to the court, I used to be mesmerized by all the lawyers around me and the confidence and grace with which they conducted themselves. This made a lasting impression on my mind and kindled in me a fire to realize my goal of becoming a lawyer and doing my bit for the common people. It is therefore natural that I have always been fascinated with this profession and its practitioners. Thus, when my turn came to choose a career, I instinctively turned to the field of law.

I was a guitarist in my school’s music band and was always involved in dance and painting competitions. Interning with MNCs such as PepsiCo and Airtel while pursuing law, was love at practicum for me. Being an ardent art and music lover, I enjoyed working on cases dealing with Intellectual Property issues with the realms of innovation and creation. 

As in the words of Edward Whitacre, Jr., “Find your passion in life and do what to integrate that into your work life”, it was a career defining moment to choose IP as it allowed me to integrate my work with my passion.

Would you please tell us about your specialisation and the array of work you handle at your firm? 

I am currently working at Inttl Advocare, an Intellectual Property Law firm as a Senior Associate in its Prosecution team. My practice focuses on advising various industries on all aspects of trademarks, copyright and designs including clearance searches, application, strategic development and management of worldwide trademark, copyright and design portfolios. I am currently heading the design prosecution team as well as in charge of various trademark portfolios including fortune 500 companies.

I am a keen analyst, exceptional multitasker, and recognised for my abilities in liaising with international law firms, clients and other external agencies. I have represented the firm in various sessions, speaker series, international and national networking events and client meetings. I have successfully argued numerous challenging matters before the Trade Marks Registry and the Design Office.

As a Member of INTA (International Trademark Association) Non-traditional marks committee (2020-2021), I have discussed on policy and practice issues and made submissions to the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks.

What are your predictions for 2022 in the area/s of specialisation mentioned above? What are some of the upcoming trends of the industry? 

Technology came to our rescue during the pandemic. I feel 2022 will be the year in which paramount importance will be there in the field of technology such as block chain technology, Non Fungible Tokens ("NFT") and the Metaverse. There is an aspect of intellectual property built into each of the above and with numerous questions to be answered ranging from the utilization of brands and its infringement in the Metaverse to patents related to block chain technology to copyright issue in respect of NFT. Interesting time indeed ahead of us.  

One recent landmark judgement or the best judgment of 2021 that you’d like to share a word about.

A recent landmark judgment that would greatly impact the nature and manner of grant of trademark rights is the judgment in Phonepe Private Limited v. Ezy Services & Anr. In the case, Phonepe Private Limited filed a suit of permanent injunction against Ezy Services & Anr, over Ezy’s use of the word “Pe” as part of their trademark “BharatPe” claiming that the word “Pe” was an essential, dominant and distinguishing feature of their mark “PhonePe” and was an invented word without any obvious meaning. The Plaintiffs also contended that use of the word “Pe” would amount to infringement and passing off of the plaintiffs marks “PhonePe” as well as “cid:image003.jpg@01D7DE47.A6ACB660” for which they had sought and secured trademark rights. The Court, in the case held that "PhonePe" and "BharatPe" both being composite marks, could not be dissected and thus, no infringement can be claimed on the basis of part of a registered trademark. The Court also held that by misspelling the word “Pay” as “Pe”, the plaintiff could not claim exclusivity over the mark “Pay” which was clearly descriptive of the services provided by the plaintiff and the defendants. The judgment essentially drove home the fact that no exclusive rights could be claimed over descriptive words simply by misspelling them and would serve as a deterrent to applicants who attempt to seek trademark rights over generic and/ or descriptive words by filing the same with imaginative and non-obvious spellings.

As a new age lawyer, what to your mind is the one thing in the current legal ecosystem at the Bar, Bench, or in the Law Firms that needs our attention.

Due to the widespread of COVID-19 pandemic, the businesses are reinventing their working styles and digital transformation is accelerating. In the constantly changing landscape of law, technology has played an effective role to transform the style of communication and working style.

The novel coronavirus has forced people into a digital-only way of life. The need of the hour is to infuse the virtual experiences with a human touch and transitioning the style of human interactions to become the new way of life. The constrains thrust on the account of the pandemic has navigated the change in the manner of communication and perhaps a step into future of digital communication which needs to be dealt with utmost care and caution.

Digitalization has empowered us to work in a more effective and efficient manner. However, we are yet to utilize the full potential and integrate the hybrid mode of working into lifestyles.

As work of home has becomes the new normal, the primary concern of most corporates and law firms is the need to ensure the security of client data and privacy even in a work from home scenario. The in-house security protocols that are normally in place are relating to not sharing of passwords, shredding of printed documents, not creating back-ups, and not using unsecured networks.

With the digitalization, IT security and privacy has to be taken care with even more caution in the hybrid scenario. Implementation of virtual private networks and cloud solutions coupled with NDAs are the need of the hour. With the hybrid mode becoming a part of our lives now, the technological development and security in the current legal ecosystem needs our attention to establish successful digital work environment.

Many Congratulations on joining the BW Legal World Elite 40 Under 40 Club of Achievers 2021. What to your mind has helped you get to where you are and what advice would you have for others who want to set off in a similar direction?

It has been an exhilarating moment to be a part of the BW Legal World Elite 40 under 40 club of Achievers. I would again like to thank Dr. Annurag Batra, Ms. Gareema Ahuja, Ms. Ashima Ohri, Mr. Krishnendra Joshi and the entire BW Businessworld team for giving me this wonderful opportunity and the exceptional jury members for giving their valuable time.

My advice to all the young lawyers would be to spend more time in the preparation of your case, be able to ascertain all of the twists and turns that may happen and know what your response will be. Each Judge / Registrar / Hearing Officer has a way of dealing a case. The best way is to know what would trigger them.

At the end of the day, everybody can learn the law, it’s about how you present yourself to get your case in your favour. As long as you don’t lose willpower and the ability to reach to a logical conclusion, any difficult situation can be handled. Out of the box thinking is what makes a lawyer successful.

As a final note, would you please recommend to our readers your favourite book that left a lasting impression on you. 

The last interesting book I read was “Think like a Monk” by Jay Shetty which aims at helping individuals to apply a monk mind-set to their lives emplacing on how to clear roadblocks to one’s potential by overcoming negative thoughts, accessing stillness, and creating true purpose. 

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