Archana Shanker of Anand and Anand in India talks about her career in patent law, two key client matters in the past 18 months, and an interesting project outside work.
I always wanted to work in an area that was close to science. After my studies in science, I decided to tread an unconventional path, which in India in the 80s was very uncommon for women, since law as a profession was largely dominated by men. I decided to break this glass ceiling and pursue law, so that I could converge my science background with law.
After my studies in science and law, I wanted to enter a field where I could use both degrees and work closely with new inventions and technologies. It was then that I decided to enter the domain of patents which, 30 years ago, was a novel field.
After finishing law school, I was fortunate to be selected to work for an eminent IP law firm Remfry & Sagar, where I cut my teeth in the exciting world of patents and intellectual property rights. At Remfry & Sagar, I was indeed fortunate to work with the best minds and that was when my IP journey started!
After having worked for over three years at Remfry & Sagar, I decided to join an organisation that had a holistic vision, where I could make a significant contribution. Therefore I decided to join Anand and Anand in 1995, and, having been with them for almost 27 years, I can state that I consider my journey very fulfilling and rewarding.
I joined Anand and Anand as a young patent lawyer in 1995, and there has been no looking back since. My journey has been an interesting one. The best part of my workplace is the freedom to develop innovative solutions for clients, build the patent practice, take risks, and be a mentor for my junior colleagues.
My love for science helps me to study and explore new technologies and gaining the complete trust and faith of my clients about my ability to develop solutions, to protect their new inventions are very satisfying at the end of the day.
7. What career advice would you give to women interested in joining the IP profession and getting to your position?
Do the hard work. Be self-driven, have the willingness to learn, have a solution-oriented approach, and think ’outside the box’ when developing arguments to support your case.
The first was the Pfizer case before the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) and Bombay High Court in relation to pre-grant oppositions where the IPAB and High Court, for the first time, discouraged “Benami” oppositions and abuse of the pre-grant opposition procedure.
The second was defending Bristol Myer Squibb in six pre-grant oppositions against its patent application for Nivolumab, a monoclonal antibody.
The patent terrain in India has gradually improved from what it was 30 years ago, and it is still developing. The challenging, yet fulfilling, part of my job has been to create and be a part of the Indian patent jurisprudence. It has been tough and still is, but efforts are on to create awareness amongst the clients and the regulatory authorities.
Apart from a strong legal and technical background, you need to have persuasive and analytical skills, with strong reasoning, and an eye for detail. Self-motivation and leadership skills, such as the ability to carry the team along, are also very important.
To provide candid and practical solutions to the client after understanding their requirement and work towards achieving that, intelligently negotiating the roadblocks that are inevitable.
Sometimes it does get disappointing if things don’t work out as planned but convincing my clients to take up the challenge and developing arguments to appeal against unfavourable outcomes or judgments is what drives me and makes my practice interesting and fulfilling.
I am working on a book that I have wanted to write for many years. It is a real-life story about my experiences in patent and the nuances of the Indian patent law system. It will serve as a guide for patent practitioners.
Pan-Asian food and cycling.
Dancing, reading, listening to music and yoga.
Archana Shanker is a patent attorney who specialises in life sciences and bioinformatics work. Shanker became a partner in Anand and Anand in 1995 and leads its patents and designs practice. Read more about Shanker here.