LexTalk World Talk Show with CS Rahul Jain, Principal - Corporate Law & IPR, RANJ Corporate Advisors
He is a qualified Company Secretary, a certified Trademark Agent from IP-INDIA and an alumnus of The ISB Hyd. He co-founded RANJ, a multi-disciplined firm offering a range of one-stop solutions in the sphere of Corporate Laws, Intellectual Property Rights, Insolvency Laws, Securities Laws, Forex Regulations. He has implemented comprehensive compliance management programs for top listed & unlisted public companies by leveraging technology thereby ensuring enhanced IP Protection & Corporate Governance Practices. As a professional negotiator for commercial contracts, he was instrumental in forging many cross border business transactions for large companies engaged in pharma, technology and infrastructure sectors.
Host: Tell us about a complex legal issue you worked on. Describe the complexity and tell us how you approached it.
Rahul: One of the complex issues I have worked on was in the matter of application u/s 16 of Companies Act, 2013 filed by an MNC Company with one of the Hon’ble Regional Director, Ministry of Corporate Affairs to force change / mandate rectification of name of our Client Company incorporated in India on the grounds that the name was similar to their registered trademark. The contentions by the Applicant were:
that the name of our Client Company is deceptively similar to their registered trade name
that our Client Company intended to copy their name and incorporated the Company based on their name and gained business or revenues
that they were “Well-known” as per the provisions of Trademark Act, 1999 and as such our Client should change its name even if not identical or remotely similar to the Applicant’s name.
that our Client had withdrawn their trademark application as well ceding into their MNC Applicant’s pressure fearing long legal battle.
The matter came to us after the above withdrawal and post the receipt of Hearing Notice by the Hon’ble RD. The case was not that strong. Both parties had filed their submissions before the Regulator. We knew the solution had to be something out of the box. The Counter Statement filed by provided by us was that
The process of filing of application as per the provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 was not followed by the opposite party which itself had let the application void.
The name of the Company was not deceptively similar nor the goods in which both the Companies dealt were same.
In order be recognized as ‘Well-Known’ the Opposite party had to file an application and the name shall be included in the list of ‘Well-Known’ trademarks registered, recognized in India as per the provisions of Trademark Act, 1999 or there ought to have been a certain judicial pronouncement recognising the same in favour of the Applicant.
Considering the above, the Hon’ble Regulator ruled the matter in our favour, and had to be one of the prominent cases filed under Section 16 of Companies Act.
Host: The pandemic saw some courts / NCLTs begin moving towards more remote proceedings and availability. Is this sustainable, and a possible way to increase access to justice, in your opinion?
Rahul: Yes, it was unfortunate to see so many legal professionals suffering during the pandemic. However, there was a silver lining too, as the judicial system finally caught up to the demands of a long pending use of technology. The case documents can now be filed and accessed easily leading to time saving. The remote proceedings have provided easy access to court or tribunal proceedings to everyone - the legal professionals could break the geographical boundaries or cartels, the litigants saved time and travel costs, and since anyone can attend the same without much costs or efforts, it brought a new extra dose of transparency. I will not be surprised if the same becomes the new normal with the Judiciary and Legal Professionals adapting the technology.
Host: How would you rate the current legal system's drive towards encouraging access to justice? Is there tangible movement in closing the justice gap?
Rahul: As rightly said by our great scholar William E. Gladstone “Justice delayed is Justice denied”. Our current legal system is known to be marred with unjustified delays, sometimes the time gap between the date of filing of a plaint and the date of passing of final judgement can even be a generation gap . However, as I was referring to the use of technology, it can definitely be a game changer for the justice system. Need for a time bound judicial process, replacing colonial laws with the ones that strikes a chord with the current and future generations, bringing in delegated legislation, something what the govt successfully managed to do in case of Companies Act, FEMA and SEBI Laws, create Special Courts to deal with technical subjects or constitute Tribunals like NCLT to decentralise and declutter the judicial systems.
Host: In the era of legal technology, what are the most commonly used tools for you?
Rahul: In today’s era, we legal professionals need a tailor made Practice Management Software to ensure that right from taking the brief of the case, to filing of petitions/applications with Tribunals or Courts, to getting even the fees on time and everything else that can be tracked. If used rightly, the MIS generated can be used to resolve the service issues or delays, something which is not a norm but a necessity given the dynamism of today’s legal ecosystem.
Host: Time is money in any profession and in legal it's most of all. How do you ensure to make the best of your time as a Corporate Law Professional?
Rahul: Quality of the advice or documentation is important and equally important is timely delivery of work. Keeping this in mind, we started our journey way back in the year 2012 to weed out human intervention in processes which ideally can be automated, developed a Practice Management Software and in 2020, the pandemic aided our aspiration to become a completely remote office and today we are a 100% digital office, containing SOPs, Checklists, Templates, Document Storage and Retrieval facility to name a few. Taking a cue from the same, some of our Clients also started approaching us for Compliance Automation and accordingly we saw a new division getting added to our kitty of corporate law services. We have now started helping Corporates also to set up a Legal Compliance Automation by providing a Software or Tool through which they can also track their regulatory compliances 360 degrees and thereby promote good corporate governance in India Inc.
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