Often life leads on various paths to find the one that an individual resonates with the most. One such life is that of Gowri Tirumurti, who has donned multiple hats in her life from being an international tennis player to being the spouse of a diplomat and a mother of two, while juggling all her roles to make some sense out of it all. Nearly two decades after completion of her bachelors in law,and an eventful life journey, Gowri is now the Partner and Head of Department (Trademarks Exports) at Anand and Anand.
Gowri’s first valuable experience came in 1996 in the form of a glorious opportunity to intern for Prabha Sridevan, a leading woman lawyer, a force to reckon with, a truly emancipated woman, who went on to become Judge of Madras High Court and Chairman of Intellectual Property Appellate Board. However, Gowri could not sustain this for too long then due to her family commitments.
A few years later, a retired Director General of Patents and Trademarks, India, who saw a glint of promise in Gowri took him under his wings. Without even realising what she was doing, Gowri assisted him with his futuristic attempts to sensitise Government Departments about the indispensable nature of Intellectual Property and its future role.
Almost a decade later, when Gowri realised that her role as a mother was nearing fruition, she felt a strong need to redefine herself.
On a chilly morning in February 2008, Gowri arrived at the Library of Anand and Anand for an interview with a Senior Partner of Anand and Anand. Lacking in prior experience in IP law; Gowri wondered what she was going to bring to the table. However much to her own surprise, Gowri was recruited into Anand and Anand and soon realised that it was her maturity that was required to be in the forefront of her work profile. Even while she tried to understand this, she slipped effortlessly into her role. Gowri notes, “My journey had commenced on a sound footing and before I realised eight eventful years had passed. I was exposed to Trademarks, Copyright, Patents, Litigation, Transactional work, Geographical Indications, and learnt how to interact with clients with professionalism.”
A Profound Learning
In due course, Gowri had to move to Malaysia with her husband on his first Ambassadorial assignment. She was readily welcomed into a leading Malaysian firm, Shearn Delamore & Co, which had a distinguished 100-year-old history. However, she learned that India and Malaysia had no bilateral understanding to enable Diplomats’ spouses to work for a profit. While Shearn Delamore offered her a role in their Trademark Department, a work permit could not be obtained.. Gowri’s Diplomatic status stood as a bar against her getting a work permit. Undeterred by the situation, she worked as an intern for three years without remuneration while performing the role of a full-fledged lawyer. This was probably one of the best experiences that redefined her as a professional.
The Transformative Shifts
In 2018, after returning to India, Gowri was quickly made a Partner and Head of Trademarks Exports, of Anand and Anand, which was simply an extension of her role in Malaysia.
Gowri heads the Exports Department of the firm, responsible for Trademark prosecution and contentious matters relating to brands in International jurisdictions. This vastly pertains to two kinds of activities-taking care of the interest of Indian clients abroad and those of Foreign clients in neighboring countries, where the firm believes it has a linguistic and cultural affinity and functional understanding.
The Managing Partner of the firm, Mr.Pravin Anand has been a pioneer in the field, has set up robust associations with some of the best legal brains in the world. These associations provide a sound footing for expeditious, efficient, and high-quality services in practically over 150 countries.
Additionally, Gowri has been instrumental in securing Geographical Indications registrations for several leading products such as Tequila, Munich Beer and Bavarian Beer to name a few in India.
Today Gowri comfortably performs her role from distant New York, while appreciating the firm’s broad perspective as well as the technology which makes her connectivity possible.
The Sheer Testament of Excellence
Anand and Anand is a 98-year-old law firm that provides comprehensive IP solutions, its forte being developing new law and precision-navigation of grey areas. The firm offers complete IP services encompassing protection, enforcement, advisory, licensing, and litigation for patents, designs, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, domain names, geographical indications, and more. Credited with lawsuits that have transformed the IP landscape in India, the firm’s litigation arm has decades of unmatched experience in dispute resolution. It has maintained a patent grant rate of over 93%. Its trademark team recorded 1800-plus successful trademark oppositions recently. The firm is committed to pushing the envelope to change in substantive and procedural law at the highest level.
Gowri asserts, “My journey thus far has epitomised the possibility of a late start provided one’s abilities and experience can be optimised. There is, of course, the need to keep abreast with the times, whether intellectually or technologically. I am also fortunate to belong to a Firm that thinks and helps you think “out of the box.”
“Many do not realise that different kinds of Intellectual Property rights spill over into each other even without one realising it” states Gowri. The artistic work in a logo is subject to copyright protection, while the logo itself as a whole is protectable as a trademark. Similarly, a Company name is registered under Company law under the Ministry of Company affairs, while the same is also a subject matter of trademark protection. It is crucial to integrate the different forms of Intellectual property law seamlessly so that the client enjoys holistic protection for the end beneficiary.
When Gowri advises her clients, she sensitise these concepts, particularly when they seek assistance from a brand development agency to choose a suitable brand for adoption, use, and registration. Adding to this basket is the need for Customs protection of trademarks and Copyrights.
Bequeathing Women Entrepreneurs
Gowri expresses that the importance of Intellectual Property has always been grossly underemphasised, undervalued, and underrated. Many do not realise that the practice of Intellectual property law requires and develops soft skills. The law itself is nascent and evolving every minute, with new judgments and precedents being created in some part of the world. While India has a vast body of IP precedents, there is still much reliance on International Jurisprudence, creating a need for effective expressions of ideas and concepts to produce results for clients.
Gowri says, “All Entrepreneurs need to bear in mind the importance of adopting and protecting their brand while launching their business. The interface of their business activity would be their brand. Therefore, the brand needs to communicate to the public what they plan to sell, in simple terms.”
“While creating one’s own identity, it is important to ensure that one is not seen taking mileage and unauthorised advantage of an existing brand power,” Gowri concludes.