Case study

IP Attaché: Vijay Iyer, India

Vijay is a Senior Intellectual Property Adviser with the British Deputy High Commission in Mumbai.

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Describing your job to colleagues and family can be difficult. It’s hard to find a balance between a complicated, jargon-filled explanation and an overly simplified response. This couldn’t be truer than if you have a job which involves intellectual property (IP).

I promote partnerships between the UK and India on IP matters. I provide practical support to UK businesses established in India and those hoping to begin trading here.

That’s the condensed version of Vijay Iyer’s job description. He also spends time at the British High Commission in New Delhi. Vijay is part of a network of IP Attachés around the world. They help UK SMEs navigate the complex IP systems in emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil.

This sounds like an enormous responsibility for one person to carry. But for Vijay, the role is a challenge he’s grabbed with both hands. It offers wonderful opportunities to networking with stakeholders across academia, industry and government. Also, he has the chance to collaborate with some of the most influential organisations worldwide.

There’s never a dull moment! Each day brings new and stimulating challenges. I cherish the fact that my work impacts upon the strategies and priorities of the UK and India.

On a day-to-day basis, what does this mean?

There is no routine, which is a good thing! There are days when I’m tied to my desk dealing with a briefing request or a report on recent developments. Then there are days when I’m juggling meetings, events, and travel.

I’m located with the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and Science and Innovation Network teams in Mumbai. This allows me to integrate my work into their activities. It also helps me understand the priorities of other government departments and to build effective partnerships.

To keep up with the demands of his role, Vijay has developed a standard approach for the ‘conventional’ days in the office. His day begins by answering urgent questions or emails. He may then spend time working on presentations, case notes or reports. Afternoons are usually reserved for meetings and conference calls. He also uses this time to catch up with the IPO in London to talk about current priorities and latest developments.

IP priorities and strategies differ from one country to another and getting to grips with the details can be overwhelming. So what is the IP landscape like in India?

Discussions with stakeholders can follow a strange course. Conversations can be emotional when someone feels IP is keeping essential goods out of the reach of the public. On the flip side, discussions can be dry when someone believes IP is an issue that holds little importance in a society where cost trumps everything.

Why are people so wary of trusting the IP system? What other IP issues do businesses trading in India face and how could these hinder their progress and success? In Vijay’s opinion, there are a few reasons.

Piracy and counterfeiting are widespread. Manufacturing and marketing of knock-off products is difficult to miss. The enforcement system is complicated and court adjudications can stretch over several years. This means that many companies find it difficult to enforce their IP. There are also concerns over the value of patents. In certain sectors, a spate of recent court orders has resulted in invalidating foreign patents.

So what advice would Vijay offer to those SMEs looking to establish themselves in the Indian marketplace?

Taking preventative measures as early as possible is key. Determine if your IP is worth protecting and if it will be commercially viable. If so, take steps to register it long before you enter the Indian market. It’s important to be proactive. Monitor the market and perform checks on local suppliers, distributors and manufacturers. Also, connect with others doing business in India, through trade associations and online forums.

If you run into infringement or piracy issues, consult with a qualified legal practitioner. They will help you understand the local context and take appropriate actions.

If this all sounds a little daunting, there’s plenty of help on hand. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UKTI and UK India Business Council offer advice and support. Seeking advice from these organisations and utilising their expertise is something Vijay encourages. Above all, he stresses the importance of exploiting the knowledge of those operating in the region.

When in doubt, seek professional help.

Describing your job to colleagues and family can be difficult. It’s hard to find a balance between a complicated, jargon-filled explanation and an overly simplified response. This couldn’t be truer than if you have a job which involves intellectual property (IP).

I promote partnerships between the UK and India on IP matters. I provide practical support to UK businesses established in India and those hoping to begin trading here.

That’s the condensed version of Vijay Iyer’s job description. He also spends time at the British High Commission in New Delhi. Vijay is part of a network of IP Attachés around the world. They help UK SMEs navigate the complex IP systems in emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil.

This sounds like an enormous responsibility for one person to carry. But for Vijay, the role is a challenge he’s grabbed with both hands. It offers wonderful opportunities to networking with stakeholders across academia, industry and government. Also, he has the chance to collaborate with some of the most influential organisations worldwide.

There’s never a dull moment! Each day brings new and stimulating challenges. I cherish the fact that my work impacts upon the strategies and priorities of the UK and India.

On a day-to-day basis, what does this mean?

There is no routine, which is a good thing! There are days when I’m tied to my desk dealing with a briefing request or a report on recent developments. Then there are days when I’m juggling meetings, events, and travel.

I’m located with the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and Science and Innovation Network teams in Mumbai. This allows me to integrate my work into their activities. It also helps me understand the priorities of other government departments and to build effective partnerships.

To keep up with the demands of his role, Vijay has developed a standard approach for the ‘conventional’ days in the office. His day begins by answering urgent questions or emails. He may then spend time working on presentations, case notes or reports. Afternoons are usually reserved for meetings and conference calls. He also uses this time to catch up with the IPO in London to talk about current priorities and latest developments.

IP priorities and strategies differ from one country to another and getting to grips with the details can be overwhelming. So what is the IP landscape like in India?

Discussions with stakeholders can follow a strange course. Conversations can be emotional when someone feels IP is keeping essential goods out of the reach of the public. On the flip side, discussions can be dry when someone believes IP is an issue that holds little importance in a society where cost trumps everything.

Why are people so wary of trusting the IP system? What other IP issues do businesses trading in India face and how could these hinder their progress and success? In Vijay’s opinion, there are a few reasons.

Piracy and counterfeiting are widespread. Manufacturing and marketing of knock-off products is difficult to miss. The enforcement system is complicated and court adjudications can stretch over several years. This means that many companies find it difficult to enforce their IP. There are also concerns over the value of patents. In certain sectors, a spate of recent court orders has resulted in invalidating foreign patents.

So what advice would Vijay offer to those SMEs looking to establish themselves in the Indian marketplace?

Taking preventative measures as early as possible is key. Determine if your IP is worth protecting and if it will be commercially viable. If so, take steps to register it long before you enter the Indian market. It’s important to be proactive. Monitor the market and perform checks on local suppliers, distributors and manufacturers. Also, connect with others doing business in India, through trade associations and online forums.

If you run into infringement or piracy issues, consult with a qualified legal practitioner. They will help you understand the local context and take appropriate actions.

If this all sounds a little daunting, there’s plenty of help on hand. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UKTI and UK India Business Council offer advice and support. Seeking advice from these organisations and utilising their expertise is something Vijay encourages. Above all, he stresses the importance of exploiting the knowledge of those operating in the region.

When in doubt, seek professional help.

Contact details:

British Deputy High Commission
Mumbai
400051

Tel: +91 22 6650 2202

email: Vijay.Iyer@fco.gov.uk

Published 5 March 2015