Ritambhara is a serial entrepreneur, a Business Lawyer, Speaker and Author of various International Publications, specializing in corporate commercial laws and Intellectual Property Law. She also has significant transactional experience in transactional legal (M&A, private equity, structured lending and funds structuring), general corporate (foreign direct/portfolio investment, JVs and other corporate advisory including tax) and IP Portfolio Management.
She is managing partner at Intelligere. We had an email interview with Ritambhara.
Q1. Tell us about Intelligere. How do you feel there is a need for IPR consultancy in the business scenario?
Every business consists of tangible and intangible assets. With the increase of technology and innovation the percentage of intangible assets is increasing in companies now days. Irrespective of the kind of business, products and services, it is likely that the company is regularly using and creating lot of intellectual property. Because of large amount of IP involved in businesses, it becomes essential to protect, manage and safeguard the IP for the maximum extraction and utilization of IP involved. In the event that the company is using someone else’s IP, it is necessary to have all the rights and licenses from the owner of the said IP in order to avoid a dispute. Every business contains IP in various forms, like trademark, copyright, patents, trade secrets and designs of the products. To protect the said IP from exploitation and utilizing the same for maximum benefit, IP consultancy is required in businesses. A legally protected IP can enhance the value of the Company in the eyes of the investors, in the event of a sale, merger or acquisition. IP consultancy can manage the IP portfolio of the company and through the same maximum benefit can be derived from the intangible assets of the company. IP can benefit the company in many ways, like having a competitive strategy, product development to design, raising financial resources or expanding the business through licensing and franchising.
Q2. Do you feel budding entrepreneurs need to understand this concept in order to adopt brand protection strategies?
It is very important for budding entrepreneurs to understand the concept of IP and adopt the measures for protection of their brand, ideas and inventions. IP, when effectively used, is a critical tool in creating an image of the company in the market and in the eyes of the customers. For budding entrepreneurs having the right knowledge of IP is critical in ensuring the right protection of their IP assets and also not to misuse others’ IP assets. It’s important to know that the company is not infringing IP rights of others. For example, if a start-up does not secure the trademark rights of their name in the beginning and meanwhile, someone else secures the same name for their company, then it would be very difficult for the start-up to have right over the said trade-name and can also become difficult to work under the said name. Also, in the case of patents, disclosing the same in the public domain without first securing the rights for the same would restrain one for having protection for the invention in the later stage.
Q3. Tell us about the market that you have as a professional.
At Intelligere we cater to all the needs of Indian, US, European and Asian region. Intelligere handles IP matters pertaining to Media & Entertainment industry, Software, Telecom, Pharmaceutical, Life Sciences, Biotechnology, Financial Institutions, Retail market, Insurance industry, Real Estate, Aviation and Infrastructure.
Q4. What type of cases you usually get from your client?
We are working for various industries. Usually we get cases of copyright infringement, trademark infringement and matters pertaining to patent infringement. Also in many instances conflict comes up between the employees and the company regarding the ownership issues to the IP created while in the company. Therefore, it is essential to have tight legal agreements with the employees while working on a new product or service involving IP and trade secrets. With the advent and increase in digital media, number of infringement matters is on a very high. It becomes very easy for others to copy a creation of the author and use the same illegally.
Q5. What type of potential exists if somebody wants to pursue a career in IPR?
Rapid proliferation of technology and globalization has increased the scope of IPR many folds. Enterprises are becoming aware about protecting their inventions, brands, creations and processes. This being so, nowdays IPR is becoming an increasingly popular career choice. Law firms, business corporations and LPOs are increasingly looking for IPR professionals. One can pursue a career in trademarks, copyright and patents. For patents, a person with a technical background is preferred and is a pre-requisite. These days there are many technical study programmes available in IPR. Many colleges like IIT-Kharagpur, IGNOU, NALSAR, NLSIU are offering various courses pertaining to IPR. Companies are regularly looking for specialist in the field of IPR, such as patent agent, patent analysts, brand protection analyst, IP portfolio manager, IP consultants to help them protect, enforce and manage their IP portfolio.
Q7. What type of competition is there for you in the market?
There is not much of competition in the market, as very few firms are operating solely in the area of IPR. Most of the law firms are multi-disciplinary law firms, handling all the domains of law.
Q8. How do you differentiate yourself from others—I mean what is your USP?
The main idea behind the venture was that there are very few law firms in India specializing in the field of IP laws. Most of the law firms are multi-disciplinary firms handling all the domains and expertise of legal field. With the advent of technology, India has become a good market for different innovations and industries and corporate are becoming more aware of their IP rights and protecting and exploiting the same. So there was a need to have more law firms specializing in the field of IP laws to handle the volume of IP work generated within India. In India there is still lack of awareness in the area of IP rights. Corporate usually focus on the tangibles assets of the companies and valuable intangible assets like IP created within the company gets ignored and companies are not able to maximize the value of the same. We want to spread awareness about different aspects of IPR issues and also to educate people in respect of their IP rights.
Q9. Tell us your experience when working with entrepreneurs.
Working with entrepreneurs is a good experience. It’s quite challenging to work with entrepreneurs. The kind of passion, energy and zeal of performance in entrepreneurs is unbeatable. Start-ups have their own issues and problems. Lot many times entrepreneurs don’t pay heed to legal issues since the inception of the venture, which is of the utmost importance and should be taken care since the beginning only, as legal issues not handled since the beginning create issues later on and at times become unmanageable also.
Q10. Share a message with our readers.
Start small dream big. Before starting up anything, always assess the market needs and ask the question-Do people require my product or services? Be critical and open to criticism as that helps in introspecting and taking corrective measures and in turn helps in growing strong and takes you in the longer run. Invest on good legal advice and ensure your venture is legally secured. At the end it’s your focus, persistence, work quality and commitment to achieve your goal that helps you in achieving your vision.