“Delegating responsibilities, ensuring clear communication, and fostering a collaborative environment are all aspects of managing a team which will run as a well-oiled machine”- Manish Kumar Mishra, Partner at Inttl Advocare

This interview has been published by Priyanka Karwa and The SuperLawyer Team

Can you share the pivotal moments or experiences that led you to pursue a career in law, specifically specializing in Intellectual Property Laws?

It is said that every person has their own destiny. I had come to Delhi to crack Civil Services. Failure to crack civil services pushed me to try law. It is also true that the interest of the students in particular subjects depend upon the teacher teaching the subject. While pursuing law in Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi the discussions and interactions were very interesting, engaging and different from all the other subjects. That is what piqued my interest in the IP laws and how I decided to pursue my career in IP. My interest further grew when I started PG Diploma in Intellectual Property from Indian Law Institute and then I saw how important it was to protect ideas and creations. This realization further motivated me to explore IP laws.

This journey has not only shaped my career goals but also fueled my passion for advocating the significance of intellectual property. I am eager to use my legal skills to support and defend the innovations that drive our society forward. 

Given your extensive experience in handling more than 200 litigations, could you highlight a case that significantly shaped your approach to legal practice or left a lasting impression on you?

One time, during the early days of my career, I was appearing before a Single Judge of Hon’ble Delhi High Court in an appeal against the order of the Copyright Board. I was assisting my senior who was to argue the matter and was thoroughly prepared with the matter myself. However, when the matter was called, my senior was before another court appearing in another matter. The Passover request was declined by the court and I was asked to argue the matter. I was a bit nervous but presented the facts of the case with energy. However, the Ld. Judge wanted to hear from me the application of ‘Principle of Comity’ to the case which I was unable to. The Ld. Judge then not took the time to explain the principle but also taught the same to me like a teacher. The Ld. Judge definitely sympathized with a junior caught off-guard but that experience taught me that it is not sufficient to only know the facts of your case. It is also important to know how the law applies to those facts and that there is a manner in which laws and facts should be presented before the court for understanding of the judge. I have never forgotten the ‘Principle of Comity’ since and have applied the judgment passed by the Ld. Judge in my favour in various cases handled thereafter.

You’ve been involved in various contentions cases related to trademarks, copyright, and designs. What drew you to these specific areas within Intellectual Property, and how have you seen these fields evolve over your 15 years of practice?

I was drawn to specializing in trademarks, copyright, and design within intellectual property because of their dynamic nature and the real-world impact they have on businesses and creativity. These areas require a delicate balance between protecting original ideas and allowing for innovation and competition.

Over my 15 years of practice, I’ve witnessed significant evolution in these fields. The advent of the digital age has transformed the landscape of IP laws. During my journey, just as an example, I have seen issues about exhaustion of rights in physical sale of products raised for the first time. We then reached an era of online sales and issues such as those of intermediaries and jurisdiction in cases of online sales etc. cropped up before the courts and now, we are discussing the impact of AI in all domains. The changes are not only with respect to the law but also the procedures before the courts. The advent of Commercial courts, special IP Division, digital filings etc. have also made litigation for litigators and litigants hassle-free.

The ever-changing technological and business landscape continually presents new challenges, making it imperative to stay at the forefront of legal developments. I find it both professionally rewarding and intellectually stimulating to navigate these complexities and contribute to the evolving dialogue within IP laws.

Being a regular guest on All India Radio and a guest faculty at the Indian Law Institute, can you tell us about the role of education and public outreach in your legal career and how it contributes to your professional growth?

Being a regular guest on All India Radio and serving as a guest faculty at the Indian Law Institute apart from various other Universities has been instrumental in shaping my legal career.

Engaging with the public through All India Radio allowed me to simplify legal concepts and make them accessible to a broader audience. My appearances at the AIR were not only limited to talking about IP Laws but also on various other laws which are relevant for socio-economic conditions of society.

As a guest faculty at universities, I have the opportunity to interact with aspiring legal professionals. Teaching not only allows me to share my practical experiences but also keeps me abreast of the latest developments in legal academia. The exchange of ideas with students fosters a two-way learning process, enhancing my own understanding of legal principles.

These educational and outreach activities complement legal practice providing a unique perspective about various issues and challenges faced by students and members of the public which I might not have the opportunity to otherwise encounter.

You’ve been a panelist at the Conclave of Dharmashastra National Law University on the topic of AI and Intellectual Property. How do you see emerging technologies impacting the field of law, specifically in Intellectual Property, and what challenges and opportunities do you foresee?

As a panelist at the Conclave of Dharmashastra National Law University on AI and Intellectual Property, I had the privilege of discussing the impact that emerging technologies have on the field of law, particularly IP. The intersection of AI and IP presents both challenges and opportunities.

The advent of AI has streamlined certain aspects of IP processes, such as patent searches and prior art analysis, significantly enhancing efficiency. However, it also raises challenges in addressing issues like AI-generated creations and the attribution of intellectual property rights.

Opportunities lie in leveraging AI for more robust IP protection mechanisms and the development of innovative solutions to combat piracy and infringement. Additionally, the use of AI in data analysis has proven invaluable in identifying patterns of IP violations.

On the flip side, challenges include the need for updated regulations to address the unique aspects of AI-generated content and the ethical considerations surrounding AI in the legal landscape. Striking a balance between fostering innovation and safeguarding IP rights in this evolving technological landscape is a complex but essential task.

Overall, embracing these technological advancements is crucial for the evolution of IP law, and navigating these challenges presents an exciting opportunity to shape a more resilient and adaptive legal framework.

Having conducted numerous civil and criminal raids, can you share a particularly challenging enforcement situation you encountered and how you navigated through it?

There was a civil raid in Meerut in around 2014 which comes to my mind. I along with a court appointed Commissioner was visiting a wholesaler engaged in the sale of infringing coffee. Initially, we went to the police station wherein we were declined assistance. However, considering the Commissioner had orders from the Court and there were chances of goods being removed now, since we had given information to the Police, we reached the premises directly. The entire process was obstructed and delayed by the female family members of the shop owner and during that period several nearby shopkeepers and market leaders gathered. We were surrounded by around 80-100 people who all turned aggressive and did not allow us to conduct the seizure or even go back to our car. I then spoke to the president of the market association who was leading the mob and explained to him that the infringing activity that the wholesaler was involved in was not only harming the reputation of the client but the low quality products being sold by the party was also being consumed by the public including the families of various members of the mob. After some explaining and a cool temper kept by us throughout, the mob allowed us to invent the stock, prepare a report and leave without seizing the products.  

Though I must add, not all civil and criminal raids have such interesting stories. While this story does not paint a pretty picture of how sometimes civil or criminal actions turn out, this also reminds me of how a calm mind, quick thinking and easy communication can help you overcome challenging situations.

As a lawyer with strengths in team management, litigation, and public speaking, how do you balance these diverse skills in your day-to-day practice, and which aspect do you find most fulfilling?

As a lawyer and working with an esteemed organization one learns to strike a balance between these and various other aspects of being a professional. In my view, the job of a lawyer demands an all-round capability and one is tested everyday with challenges on these fronts. It is not only required of me to manage the team or prepare for various court cases or attend public speaking sessions but also to participate in other activities such as management of the Firm, attending conferences for business development etc. 

Delegating responsibilities, ensuring clear communication, and fostering a collaborative environment are all aspects of managing a team which will run as a well-oiled machine. This allows me to streamline workflows and gives me the chance to undertake other works and projects. In order to achieve the same, a robust motivated team is a must. It is my philosophy that my team should pass on the complete knowledge which I possess in all fields, and that is one of the most fulfilling experiences as a professional. I also ensure that my team is motivated and properly trained to effectively complete the delegated works which not only allows me time for other endeavors but also allows them to grow independently.

Litigation requires meticulous preparation, attention to detail, and the ability to think on my feet. Prioritizing tasks, managing timelines efficiently, and staying adaptable to the evolving nature of legal proceedings are the pillars of effective advocacy. On the other hand, public speaking allows me to not only advocate for my clients but also contribute to legal education and public understanding of the law.

Looking back at your journey from law school to moderating a topic at INTA in Atlanta in 2024, what advice would you give to fresh law graduates aspiring to specialize in Intellectual Property or follow a similar path in their legal careers?

My advice to the fresh law graduates aspiring to specialize in IP or pursuing a similar path would be to (i) Build a Strong Foundation by focusing on learning and gaining practical experience in initial years of practice; (ii) Keep yourself updated with the latest legal developments and familiarize yourself with technological tools used in the legal field; (iii) Develop Communication Skills as effective communication, both written and verbal, is crucial for a lawyer. This also includes honing your networking skills which open up various opportunities for one; (iv) Be flexible to adapt to the demanding situations and conditions of the profession.

Remember, each step contributes to your growth, and perseverance is key in building a successful career.

Get in touch with Manish Kumar Mishra-

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