Tributes pour in for NK Anand India’s respected IP pioneer

Tributes pour in for NK Anand
Nawal Kishore Anand

Mr Nawal Kishore Anand, the founding father of Anand and Anand and one of the first IP lawyers in India, died on 29 March. Mr Anand was a visionary who envisioned a strong IP regime decades ago when India’s IP jurisprudence lacked sophistication and the country was known for as a safe haven for pirates.

After the passage of the Trade and Merchandise Act in the 1950s, Mr Anand busied himself with trademark registry matters and worked with clients from all over India. He was called to the bar in 1956 and practised in IP law for more than 65 years.

“Mr NK Anand was unquestionably one of the progenitors of IP litigation in the High Court of Delhi, and the IP bar, as it exists today, owes much to him,” said M Chandrasekharan, the former additional solicitor general of India.

“I fondly remember him as a valued and respected senior colleague at the bar, with whom it was always a pleasure to interact. He was one of the members belonging to the old school of legal thought, and remained friendly and courteous to the end.”

It was in the late 1950s that Anand saw a turning point in his career as he successfully represented an Indian company, which is now a leading multinational conglomerate, in a complex precedent-setting case.

“I remember Mr NK Anand as an extraordinary lawyer,” said Kapil Sibal, a senior advocate and former minister. “The mere mention of his name takes one back to India’s journey to becoming an IP-strong nation that it is today. However, more than an extraordinary lawyer, Mr Anand was a simple, humble and kind human. Not many people have the art of expressing differences of opinion in such a friendly manner. It was one of the great joys of life to have known Mr NK Anand.”

To further IP awareness, Mr Anand had authored the books Law Against Counterfeiting and Piracy and The Menace of Video Piracy.

“The passing away of Mr NK Anand is a loss for India and the legal world,” said Justice Manmohan of the Delhi High Court. “[He] belonged to that school of law where lawyers were very well-prepared, student-like in their approach and never aggressive even when litigating. He could make his point without losing his cool. Mr Anand was extremely well-read and made for a great conversationalist.”

Mr Anand served as the vice-president of the Delhi High Court Bar Association from 1974-76 in addition to being a member of the International Bar Association, the Asian Patent Attorneys Association and the Patent and Trademark Bar Association of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM). He also headed the IP law firm Acme Company founded in 1923, making it one of the oldest IP firms in India.

Mr Anand earned several awards and accolades for his contributions to the IP field including the lifetime achievement award from Justice SM Krishnan in recognition of his position as the founding father of the Indian Group of the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property, the world’s leading non-profit association dedicated to the development and improvement of laws for IP protection.

Mr NK Anand’s son Pravin, nephew Safir, grandson Dhruv and granddaughter-in-law Vidhi continue to work in the legal field.

Tribute from Justice Manmohan Singh (retired):

The late NK Anand, who we fondly remember as “Nawal ji”, was enrolled in the Bar Council in 1956 and became a member of Delhi High Court in 1962. He passed away in 2023. It was a long journey on the legal side with more than 67 years of active practice in IP. We must believe in his long innings of practice as an advocate. It is a remarkable event and I hope it will be an unbroken record. We all must salute him and admire him from the bottom of our hearts.

He was loved and liked by all juniors, staff members and seniors alike.

Nawal ji never claimed to be a senior, he treated all as his friends and always tried to resolve issues rather than dragging them on. I must add that till his very last breath, Nawal ji was active and mentally alert. We have seen him appear in court with two of his next generation lawyers i.e., his son Pravin Anand and his grandson Dhruv Anand, in IP cases. He was always fair, honest, disciplined and well-behaved before all courts exemplifying the essential traits of an advocate.

I would like to share that way back in 1989, upon research, I found his presence in reported IPR cases in various legal books and journals dating back to the year of the constitution of the Delhi High Court. It was striking to find out that Nawal ji had appeared as counsel – either for the plaintiff or for the defendant – in over 90% of matters. So, you see, all retired, sitting judges of high courts and the Supreme Court naturally had the highest respect and regard for him. Actually, Nawal ji had earned it with his hard work and sincerity towards the legal system. His professional contribution in IP cases is enormous and unmatched.

I have been informed that he was the president of the Nizamuddin Welfare Society (Nizamuddin [in New Delhi] is where he was residing and working from). It comes as no surprise that members of society admired him for his neutrality and therefore had blind faith in him.

My relationship with him and his family dates to the summer of 1972. As an opposition counsel from 1980 till 2008, and till when I retired as a judge, we shared a strictly professional yet cordial relationship. He was one of the very rare kind of people in my life, much like the late Anoop Singh, my guru and mentor.

Tribute from senior advocate Sudhir Chandra Agarwala:

Mr NK Anand was a man of many parts. Firstly, he was a giant of the Delhi High Court Bar. Law reports are replete with cases argued by him in the realm of trademark and intellectual property rights leading to judgments, which have stood the test of time and are even today regarded as watershed judgments. His mastery over the subject is acknowledged universally and he was a highly respected member of the Delhi Bar Association.

Secondly, he was by nature, a generous man with a big heart. Not only was he popular, but highly respected. Thirdly, he was a man who lived by his principles and convictions. He established the firm, Anand and Anand, which became the leading firm in India for intellectual property rights. The firm is well-known not only for its prowess and acumen but also for the highest principles of integrity by which it functions.

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