“In today’s business environment, IPR is hottest section of law. As more investment flows in, organisations want to know if the IP laws are in order to protect the technology.”
Young and passionate, Ashwin Julka is the managing partner of the world’s second oldest intellectual property law firm—Remfry & Sagar. Established in 1827, Remfry & Sagar is a full service IP boutique firm advising more than 7,000 clients worldwide on trade mark, patent, design, copyright, geographical indication, domain name and unfair competition issues. “Prosecution and enforcement of rights are our forte,” explains Julka. “In today’s business environment, IPR is the hottest section of law. As more investment flows in, organisations want to know if the IP laws are in order to protect the technology. The importance of IPR can be seen in the fact that in the last decade there have been about 300 firms catering to this, whereas in the last century, only four or five companies existed. This is a booming profession.” Delving deeper into the functions, Julka tells that the Firm focuses on licensing and franchising as well as distribution agreements, apart from assisting clients with foreign investment, joint ventures, company formation and management and mergers and acquisitions.
Sitting at ease in his farmhouse near Sohna in a pair of jeans and tees, it’s a little difficult to imagine that this man lectures on subjects across the IP spectrum and has written articles on diverse themes connected to IPR.
Going into the history of the Firm, it was started by a Britisher Mr Remfry and reached Indian shores during the times of the East India Company. Till 1970, there were British partners, but around that time Dr Vidya Sagar was given the offer to buy the firm. “Dr Sagar was a democratic man, he believed in going by merit,” says Julka.
The modest young lawyer credits his success to his father and the late Dr. Vidya Sagar. “My father was a bureaucrat, so I wanted to be a bureaucrat too. I am a gold medallist in law from the University of Delhi but I was driven to join the civil services. For three years, I tried but could not make it, so then thought of using my law degree. I found the name of this firm through the yellow pages. And applied. I guess it was all written in the heavens and I joined the firm in 1994. I worked very hard as my classmates had been working for the three years when I was studying. I had to take a leap,” elucidates the man who handles his success humbly.
He recounts that he was even interviewed by Arthur Anderson, now called Accenture. “I went through eight or nine rounds of interviews and was not chosen. But when I landed here, I learned from Dr Sagar that if you love something, then give it your best shot and it works.”
Today, he is also a member of several international Intellectual Property Organizations such as INTA, AIPPI, ECTA, ITMA and PTMG and frequently travels for work. In addition, he serves as a Director on the Board of Indian subsidiaries of a few German Companies— Richard Wolf India Private Ltd., Niehoff of India Private Limited and GEA Westfalia Separator India Pvt. Ltd. He is also on the Board of The Sagar Foundation.
Remfry & Sagar became the pillar of his life as he met his wife Sharmistha also there. “I am not a lawyer but we started getting along well. Dr. Sagar was like a godfather. As my parents passed away when I started working here, he came to talk to my in-laws for my marriage also,” reminisces Sharmistha. “He sent us to Switzerland for our honeymoon as he had promised that to my grandmother.”
Dr. Vidya Sagar passed away in 2010 but left his great on their lives. “He would work 14 hours a day, travel for six months. He was a dynamic but humble man,” the duo speak.
Sharmistha is Director, The Sagar School, which is an international residential school in Tijara. “One fine day, he asked me to start a school and I began from scratch, finding the land, getting it built, finding teachers,” she recounts. She is also a Director of The Sagar Foundation, which helps women across rural belts in the neighbouring areas become self-sufficient. “We hold bazaars and the firm also buys a lot of their products,” says Sharmistha.
Besides the passion for work and working in the same place, the couple share many passions such as love for nature; it reflects in their environment. Gardening is a passion for Julka who spends every alternative weekend in a nursery. “We have about 15 different varies of palms, bamboos, and I always like space to be surrounded by flowers,” he smiles.
They also explore nature’s different colours by travelling to different places across the world. “We went to Alaska and have been around to 80 countries,” laugh the duo. Beauty in all forms is the cornerstone of their home. “I inherited my green fingers from my father. But all the paintings in the house are by my sister Anju Kumar who holds exhibitions across the world.”
The couple also love to collect antiques, modern furniture is not their preference; and this is seen in all the rooms of their farmhouse. Their two dogs, named Topsy and Turvy, make the family complete. “Sharmistha did not like dogs earlier but the pact was if I give up smoking, she would let me keep dogs,” says Julka and this has turned out to be a boon, as Sharmistha fell in love with dogs.
An Aamir Khan movie is a must watch for the couple as is a Nicholas Cage one. They love to go out and try out different cuisines including, Italian, Continental, and Chinese, but do not prefer to eat Indian food when out, as that is made at home. “Ashwin does not eat non-veg but we have never had a problem over this, as we kept different utensils and pantry for non-veg when we made this place,” says Sharmistha.
A man of many dimensions, the lawyer lives life by the Remfry phiolosphy, creating a balance between work and home. The Firm promotes a healthy work-life balance with the belief that a happy, well-rounded employee is one who is most motivated and productive. “Weekends are quality time with family,” he emphasises.