Early this month I led my first overseas delegation as INTA President with a trip to India. I was joined by INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo, also on his first visit to India, and Bruce MacPherson, Director of External Relations, on his fourth visit to India as an INTA representative. Upon arrival in New Delhi, we were welcomed by Simran Daryanani Zainulbhai, INTA’s India Representative and our host for the next three days.
On the first day we hosted a roundtable discussion with IP attachés from the embassies of Canada, the European Union, Japan, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Through these comprehensive discussions, the participants found that they generally agreed that trademark protection is not a contentious matter in India. There was praise for the progress made by India’s Central Board of Excise and Customs with regard to an increase in customs recordations. However, it was noted that challenges lie in certain areas of enforcement and in the operation of the Indian Trade Marks Registry.
We held a separate roundtable with local brand owners. The in-depth discussion at this roundtable led brand owners to suggest several ways in which INTA could become more involved in India, including:
Making further inroads into policy development and advocacy;
Developing best practices for local brand owners in dealing with enforcement agencies; and
Providing educational opportunities and materials for local brand owners and trademark officials.
The day ended with a well-attended Pre-Annual Meeting Reception, where Etienne and I took the opportunity to address the 89 guests in attendance. I outlined the key goals of INTA’s 2014–2017 Strategic Plan, and gave special mention to the Association’s Global Advisory Task Forces and India Global Advisory Group. Etienne talked about the upcoming Annual Meeting and explained why it is important for trademark practitioners and brand owners to join us in Hong Kong this May. Our message was well-received. Given the close proximity of Hong Kong to India, many within the local trademark community are planning to attend the Annual Meeting this year.
Guests at the Pre-Annual Meeting Reception
The following day, our delegation was joined by INTA volunteers from local corporate members Castrol India Limited and Reliance Industries Limited, and together we met with Mr. Sandeep Kumar, Commissioner of Customs at the Central Board of Excise and Customs, and Mr. Sathish Kumar Reddy, Director – International Customs Division and Mr. D.V. Prasad, Joint Secretary at the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP). Over the years, INTA has been successful in sustaining a meaningful dialogue and in strengthening relations with these important officials.
On our final day in India, we met with Mr. Chaitanya Prasad, Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks at the Trade Marks Registry in Mumbai. We had an extremely fruitful discussion about the progress that has been made at the Registry since INTA’s previous visit in 2013, and the Controller General was open to receiving suggestions and assistance from INTA on improving Registry operations. The day ended with another corporate roundtable, at which brand owners urged INTA to advocate for a separate IP court in India and a specialized judiciary for IP. They also voiced their interest in developing a specialized judiciary so that the bench is knowledgeable about trademark law.
Corporate Roundtable in Mumbai
While this was certainly a productive trip for INTA, for me it was also a very enjoyable and deeply educational three days. In addition to the many INTA member volunteers listed below, I send a special thank you to Simran, Etienne and Bruce for escorting me around beautiful India. Thank you also to the local trademark community, who pulled together and made us feel so welcome with great aplomb and generous hospitality!
INTA would like to thank these fantastic INTA members for making the delegation visit the success it was:
Pravin Anand (Anand and Anand Advocates)
Murli Balasubramaniam (Castrol India Limited)
Sarita Joglekar (Reliance Industries Limited)
Chander Lall (Lall & Sethi Advocates)
Shwetasree Majumder (Fidus Law Chambers)
Brijesh Mathur (B. Mathur & Co.)
Ranjan Narula (RNA, IP Attorneys)
Hemant Singh (Inttl Advocare)
Prathiba Singh (Singh & Singh Law Firm LLP)
Purnima Singh (Mulla & Mulla & Craigie Blunt & Caroe)