Associates, In-House Counsels & Advocates

Deepak Singh, Associate Partner, Khurana and Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys, on Patent Law, and his experience

Deepak graduated in law from University of Delhi, batch of 2015. Prior to that, he held a degree in Engineering from Maharshi Dayanand University. After a successful stint at LakshmiKumaran and Sridharan, he s currently Associate Partner at Khurana and Khurana, and also Associate Partner at IIPRD Consulting. Deepak specialises in Patents, with an expertise in Software, Networking, and Telecommunications. He is actively involved in identifying inventions, drafting patent applications, performing Infringement analysis, drafting responses to office actions for Indian and foreign applications in the field of software, mechanical, medical robotics, bio-medical, robotic processes, medical devices, electrical, electronics, and automobiles.

In this interview we speak to him about:

  • Marrying science with law
  • His time at LKS
  • IP Law and its prospects

Has your background in engineering come of use to you in your work as a lawyer?

(Deepak has a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering and then went on to pursue an LLB from the University of Delhi.)

During my school days, I wanted to become an engineer, like my father, and never planned on becoming an Advocate. I got my engineering degree in computer science in 2006. Being a mediocre student, I decided to take up any engineering job. I have started my career in the software domain. When I was working in software, I got a call for the Patent Analyst profile from an HR of Anindus Consultants (formerly known as Bluefile IP Services). Anindus Consultants was a subsidiary of Lakshmikumaran & Shridharan Attorneys. Following that call, I was hired in 2007 by Anindus Consultants as one of their first employees in the prosecution team of the IPR division. In the prosecution team, I have started my IPR career drafting responses to US and EP office actions. I also got an opportunity to work for a US Attorney on analyzing a patent portfolio for identifying potential patent infringers, preparing infringement charts, preparing invalidity contention charts, preparing response to invalidity contention charts, performing market analysis, and computing financial damages due to patent infringement by an infringing party.

After four successful years with Anindus Consultants, I was shifted to the main firm Lakshmikumaran & Shridharan Attorneys. While working with the law firm, I felt a need of becoming an Advocate and therefore I had joined the regular evening batch of Law Faculty, University of Delhi. After three hard years, I had completed my Law Graduation, which I never planned for in my early days of career. There is no direct connection between engineering and legal graduation; but Intellectual Property Rights job profile requires both technical as well as legal knowledge. Following my Law Graduation, I have also cleared a Patent Agent Exam and now I am an Engineer, an Advocate, and a Patent Agent. That is, I am now a complete Intellectual Property Professional. So, one can see that nothing was planned, everything keeps on rolling from one strength to another.

Has the transition been difficult moving from a STEM discipline to the legal fraternity? 

Like I have mentioned earlier, nothing was planned, everything keeps on rolling. In the initial days in the IPR profile, I was thinking on a regular basis that whether I have taken a right step or not. But, as you can see that it proved out to be the best for me. I will not shy away from saying that STEM and legal world are totally different, but when you accept something from your heart, there is little to worry about. And as rightly said by someone, “Nothing even becomes real till it is experienced.

What are the curricular and extra-curricular activities that you took up at law school?

I had attended the evening classes at Law Faculty, University of Delhi. I was joining the classes after the entire office day of ten long hours. But, still, I managed to participate in a few sports events and annual day programs, apart from attending the moot court as a spectator. I really wanted to take a part in moot court, but my official responsibilities never allowed me to take another extra step beyond attending the classes.

 

Did you always aspire to work in IP law?

Well, I never even aspired to become a lawyer. But, I joined the legal fraternity by chance or by luck. During the recession of 2007, getting jobs had become increasingly difficult. I am very thankful to God that I met the right people at the right place in that year. Whatever I am today is because of the friends and professionals I met in the year 2007. Becoming an IP Professional was never on my wish list, but you don’t even know that God had already decided for you.

 

What according to you are the qualities needed to successfully grow in this industry?

(Within a few years Deepak got promoted from Associate to Senior Associate, and then Principal Associate at LKS, which is one of the most reputed law firms in India.)

The qualities and competencies vary from one professional to another. There is no formula to success. Some take the easier path, and other takes longer one. But, what mattes at the end is whether you are successful or not. According to me, one has to have fair communication skills to deal with inventors, applicants, clients, and even the officers sitting in the patent offices. One need not be excellent or exceptionally well versed with the in-depth knowledge of the developing technologies, but has to have good basic knowledge of the subject matter. In addition to that, as and when a professional career rises, one has to keep his legal knowledge updated from one level to another. So, basically, you will see that an engineer is required to have a strong knowledge about his/her engineering domain, but the lawyer has to keep on updating his knowledge on a day to day basis. He has to read latest case laws or judgements to compete in the legal fraternity, which is not the case with an engineer.

But, yes, I enjoyed with working with LKS. And, as you may be aware that currently I am not a part of LKS, and working as Associate Partner at Khurana and Khurana a Greater Noida based Law firm.

 

Having interacted with several interns at LKS, how would you advice interns in their approach to taking up internships? 

The qualities required for internship varies from one firm to another. There is no sure shot formula. But, yes, I would recommend that an aspirant can connect socially with one or more seniors over the social network to secure the internship program. Otherwise, each firm has their own rules and guidelines to select the interns for the internship.

 

What is your stance on India’s present standard of protection for software? 

The Patent Office has released new revised Guidelines for Examination of Computer Related inventions (CRIs) in June 2017. These Guidelines are modified version of the Guidelines published in February 2016, last year. I would not like to go into detail. But I would like to let the inventors or investors know that the new Guidelines are definitely a step forward and are in line with foreign jurisdiction practices. That is, with the new guidelines, the success ratio for grant of patent related to software will now increase.

What do you do and how do you do it?

I have recently joined Khurana and Khurana. But when I was working as Principal Associate with Lakshmikumaran and Sridharan Attorneys, I managed some of the largest client accounts at Lakshmikumaran and Sridharan. I oversaw end-to-end client engagement, delivery and operations management, and resource management. The responsibilities also include interfacing with other organizational functions including management of paralegal operations in addition to technical part of the job. My responsibilities as Principal Associate include managing a fast-growing group, defining processes, ensuring quality, maintaining client relations, and helping the new paralegal team of IPR Engineering to understand the various requirements of the Indian Patent Laws.

Within the technical team, I was responsible for mentoring fellow associates, determining and ensuring revenue targets, and creating new workflow processes. The responsibilities further include identifying training requirements of team members, understanding their personal goals, and mentoring them to achieve their personal and professional objectives.

Almost similar roles and responsibilities are expected at Khurana and Khurana.

 

What steps did you take to secure your present job?

Currently, I am working as the Associate Partner with Khurana and Khurana & IIPRD Consulting. To land the present job, I had to attain a Law degree and a Patent Agent Certificate. Further, I have more than ten years experience of working with Indian and Foreign clients on projects including patent drafting, patent prosecution, FTO, infringement analysis, patent searches, invalidation searches, litigation support, and attending hearings at Indian Patent Office and Indian Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB)

 

What are the most challenging aspects of being an IP lawyer?

There are a number of challenges in this career. One major challenge is that majorly an IPR section or IPR job opportunities prevail in law firms. In law firms, there is a culture of sitting late in office and leaving after set time period. So, this in return offsets the work life balance.

 

What final piece of advice would you like to pass on to our readers?

A student aspiring to become an IPR professional needs to complete law degree after completing graduation in science.

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