Ms. Rajeshwari Hariharan – Practicing Excellence

An idea is protected once you have captured it in tangible form. If it is disclosed to the public, without any statutory protection, you cannot benefit from it. Protecting your IP is the most important thing in an era of today’s competitive market.        

Rajeshwari Associates is an IP firm focussing on the practice of intellectual property. It was started in 2009 at a time when there was not enough awareness about intellectual property. The idea was to have a firm that would become a one-stop-shop for all IP needs right from filing and prosecution to litigation and where advice received is practical and cutting-edge legal insight.

Rajeshwari Associates is committed to providing quality legal advice and seamless services to clients and now has evolved to become one of the most preferred Intellectual Property Law firms in India. Building upon the 20 years of enviable experience of its founder Ms. Rajeshwari Hariharan across various segments of IP Laws, Litigation, and Prosecution, Rajeshwari Associates works relentlessly towards providing specifically customized solutions to its clients.

Antecedent Hurdles

Initially, there were many challenges of human capital, etc including having to prove themselves. But what was most important for the firm was to win the trust of their clients by delivering quality service with a significant qualitative advantage. Over some time, they have won the trust and goodwill of clients.

Rajeshwari Associates has had many challenges to face. One of their clients found that a liver cancer drug, which is a life-saving drug, is sold at 3-4 lakhs per month by Bayer.  As a result, though there are over 1 lakh liver/kidney patients every year, hardly 1% of the population had access to the drug. Many who were in the middle and lower-income groups went untreated. Where the life of the patient afflicted by this type of cancer is only 6-8 months, making this drug available at a reasonable price would do yeoman’s service.

The client wanted to make the product available at a reasonable cost to the Indian market. That is when Rajeshwari Associates stepped in and devised a strategy to obtain a compulsory license. Though the path was laden with risks and multiple layers of litigations at various for an including the High Court, Patent office, etc, eventually, the first-ever compulsory license was granted and upheld by the IPAB (Intellectual Property Appellate Board) and Supreme court.

The strategy worked and though there was the battle was hard-fought, their client got the first compulsory license in India in March 2012 and marketed their drug SORANAT. The drug sorafenib became available to the common man dying of liver cancer at a mere Rs. 8 thousand, which is a service to the people.

This entire exercise was possible due to the steadfastness and diligence of Rajeshwari Associates’s team. 

Initially, the firm was a small group of 4 which grew slowly and today it is a 30-person strong team. Firms’ revenues have also grown steadily over the years.

The reason behind the long-the standing success

  • Hard work
  • Adapting to the times
  • Service with a personal touch
  • Giving practical & strategic advice 

The Services

The main focus of Rajeshwari Associates practice is litigation in Intellectual Property matters. The key to litigation is a strategy and good advice. They have the skill set to counsel clients such as to prevent litigation and in the event, they do face some litigation, Rajeshwari Associates gives them practical advice such that they can easily deal with the matter, or contest and win the matter. Rajeshwari Associates has a team that is well equipped to deal with all types of urgent situations quickly and responsively.

To deal with complex technical matters, they have a strong technical team that assists and this takes off a lot of burden from the clients. Hence instead of mechanically expecting the client to give feedback and relying wholly on them, Rajeshwari Associates do a lot of work by themselves and clients find this interesting because they then have the opportunity to bring in their perspective which complements and supplements firms work.

The interface of intellectual property with Artificial intelligence is quite interesting and is bound to throw up new challenges for the courts and legal consideration. One example is we now have AI that can write its code. So the developer may have an AI to do the codes and maybe they are infringing. Complex issues arise as to who would be the infringer, who is the author of the code etc. therefore AI is one of the newer areas of expansion for Rajeshwari Associates in the future.

A change over the years in the legal sector

There has been a great deal of change in the legal sector over the last few years. In the past, consulting a lawyer was the last minute when people ran out of all options and had no other way. However, we now see a trend of preventive litigation – consulting and becoming ready even before any litigation could ensue. Also, awareness of intellectual property rights has grown over the years. Many law firms have emerged- there is stiff competition. Therefore, one must always be a cut above the edge.

Ms. Rajeshwari Hariharan, Founder

Ms. Rajeshwari Hariharan, founder at Rajeshwari Associates has experience of over 25 years. She initially started with civil law practice and then slowly moved to intellectual property law. Ms. Rajeshwari has had done all kinds of transactions, be it drafting and filing of the patent, or counseling start-ups, devising a strategy for matter, conducting matters in all courts, arguing on matters, negotiating licenses, crafting agreements, etc. So her experience has been varied and quite enriching.

Ms. Rajeshwari admires senior Advocate Iqbal Chagla and Dr. AM. Singhvi. Both are institutions by themselves. The business story of Ratan Tata motivates her a lot.

The Key Achievements

The first major battle that Ms. Rajeshwari handled was the revocation of the Basmati patent which was granted to Ricetec a company in the United States. She worked hard to find prior art and then after a long and arduous battle the patent was revoked by the USPTO. On similar lines, the turmeric patent was also revoked.

The firm also dealt with the Glivec case, which for the first time interpreted section 3(d) of the Patents Act 1970 so as to prevent evergreening of patents. This was a case for a product (imatinib mesylate) for the treatment of blood cancer. It was being sold at 1 lakh per month – in India.  there was no product patent granted in India; however, there was a patent application for a crystalline form of imatinib mesylate. And as per the then prevailing regime Exclusive marketing Rights were granted to Novartis who sued and injuncted several companies attempting to manufacture imatinib mesylate. However, the crystalline form of imatinib mesylate was opposed first by Natco Pharma and then by other companies on the ground that the crystalline form as well as the main compound was already in the public domain and has no efficacy over the known substance imatinib mesylate.

The Controller rejected the patent application and the matter was carried forward in High court in appeal, IPAB and to Supreme Court. Eventually, the patent stood rejected; but the Supreme court laid down the law that ‘efficacy’ as contemplated in section 3(d) is nothing but therapeutic efficacy, meaning thereby that unless a product shows some better ‘curative effect’, it will not be eligible for a patent.   This is a path-breaking judgment and is being followed to date. It is this interpretation that prevents frivolous patents from being granted in India.

Special client experience

Clients are of various types. Rajeshwari Associates did some defamation cases for an erstwhile Nawab whose image was morphed and printed in a newspaper. No fee was agreed upon. But after Rajeshwari Associates won the case and got an apology from the newspaper, the Nawab gifted firm a ‘Shahi necklace’. It was something they could not forget. In another instance, one of the firm’s clients was sued by the furniture giant IKEA.

After an ex-parte injunction, the client’s business is carried on under the name ‘AIKYA GLOBAL” came to a grinding halt. Rajeshwari Associates intervened and after strenuous arguments, the court held that both these marks are different and the injunction was overturned. The client rejoiced and resumed his business under his earlier tradename.

Thus, the lawyer’s duties are not just to towards the client but also to the court and argue for the advancement of law; argue for that which is fair and reasonable. The next generation of lawyers in the initial years should focus on learning than earning. Advocacy, handling clients and courts is a matter of experience. One must also keep an eye on the detail; as they say, the devil lies in the detail.

At Rajeshwari Associates, we take very good care of employees.  The firm tries to keep communication channels always open so that no issue remains a small or big issue and is resolved even before it arises. Being a small team, human issues are far and few.

We would like to grow into new and developing areas of intellectual property such as artificial intelligence, the convergence of IP and competition. There are some matters where new issues and matters of law are being considered and this will help to lay down the law for the future.

Ms. Rajeshwari

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