“The things that haven’t been done before,
Those are the things to try;
Columbus dreamed of an unknown shore
At the rim of the far-flung sky,
And his heart was bold and his faith was strong
As he ventured in dangers new,
And he paid no heed to the jeering throng
Or the fears of the doubting crew.”
These lines from a poem by Edgar Guest aptly define the journey of BananaIP. From a firm with two people to a firm of over fifty led by the finest team of senior partners and from a boutique Intellectual Property (IP) firm to a firm offering super specialized IP services, it has been an exhilarating journey of 15 years. It has always been about making the difference and being the difference.
History of the firm
It was over a decade and half ago when Dr. Kalyan Kankanala first conceived the idea of starting an IP firm. It was a time when intellectual property in India was still a strange and alien concept. If you believe that there is lack of IP awareness in India today, it makes it only easier for you to imagine the situation 15 years ago. Christened as ‘Brain League’, the firm started its humble journey in 2004 amidst an air of uncertainty with two people on deck – Dr. Kalyan Kankanala and Arun Narasani, a childhood friend of Dr. Kalyan Kankanala.
In 2004, just after the firm’s inception, the firm was selected for incubation at IIMB’s entrepreneurship cell, NSRCEL following a rigorous evaluation. It was here that the firm received its first set of patent projects from the likes of ITC, Sasken, Chirra Electronics, and Sandbox at St. John’s Hospital and grew to a firm of five people.
Even in 2019, Intellectual Property in India is still considered to be in the early stages of development. Companies have been cropping up like never before and innovation seems to be a driving force. Despite the increased innovation however inventors and innovators seldom understand the importance of Intellectual Property. There is and has always been a need for building IP literacy and awareness in India. Foreseeing this need as early as in 2005, the firm began working with the National Law School of India University, Bangalore to build IP literacy and awareness in India and to help inventors and innovators identify and create intellectual assets capable of generating value.
It was in 2006 that the firm first started offering IP Mining and Audit services to help clients mine unprotected IP, create inventory of protectable IP and advice clients on IP protection possibilities and strategies. It was also then that the firm first began offering open source license analysis, advisory and compliance services and offering legal services around open source professionally, making it’s the firm in India to do so. In the following years the firm also set up a specialized department to offer Entertainment and Sports Law Services, a first of its kind in South India. The climb was quick and the firm was recognized as one of the leading firms in the country pretty quickly.
In 2013, a decision to restructure Brain League was made, resulting in the birth of two new entities one of which was BananaIP Counsels. With a name that often invokes chuckles and laughter to date, people often found it incomprehensible as to why a firm dealing with a serious aspect of law would consider naming itself something as silly as a Banana. The answer to this perhaps lies in the first two lines of Edgar Guest’s poem “The things that haven’t been done before, Those are the things to try…” and in Dr. Kalyan’s comment when he says – “We as IP attorneys assist creators; people, who think differently; people, who get rights because they think differently; people, who make a difference because they think differently; and people, who thrive on thinking differently. Novelty, Distinctiveness, Inventiveness, Dissimilarity, Differentiability, and Severability, among others, are the foundations of creativity and intellectual property, and why should normative limitations pervade minds of IP attorneys who work with creativity day in and day out?”
Who we are today?
On the 29th of May 2014, BananaIP came into formal existence. The firm initially began operating with five partners and six departments specializing in different technology and business areas such as mechanical, automotive, electronics & telecommunication, Bio/pharma, entertainment and consulting, etc.
Today, the firm operates with six partners who together make up for one of the strongest and finest team of senior partners in the country. The synergy between the partners, the associates and between themselves is most unique to the firm and often coveted by many. The firm offers super specialized services that are one of a kind.
In its endeavor towards building IP literacy and awareness in India and to help clients realize as well as maximize the value from their intellectual assets, the firm has trained over twenty thousand corporate employees, scientists, researchers and engineers across the country. The firm in its 10 years of existence as Brain League and 5 years as BananaIP, has worked with more than 1200 clients, delivered 20,000+ projects and conducted hundreds of IP Audits for organizations such as UNIDO, BHEL, IIT Madras, Sterlite, Britannia, Emerson, Yash Raj Films among others.
BananaIP & its partners have time and again featured in articles by leading newspapers and magazines such as Business World, Economic Times, The Hindu, Indian Express, Telegraph, Forbes, DNA, Business Gyan, Pharma Biz, Deccan Herald, DNA, Live Mint, IAM among several others.
A policy today may be law tomorrow. Keeping this in mind, BananaIP has actively and extensively contributed to IP research, law and policy making in the country. The firm has represented the interests of its clients at stakeholder meetings organized by the government, responded to draft rules, white papers, etc published by the government from time to time.
The firm has always believed in giving back to the society and as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility, the firm has always been engaged in pro-bono initiatives. Through initiatives such as Radio Sinapse, SiNApSE blog and Intellepedia the firm has published thousands of articles. Intellepedia is also ranked among to the top 10 IP blogs in the world.
BananaIP’s partners have been empanelled as IP facilitators for start-ups by DIPP, Government of India, where as part of the program, they help start-ups draft and file patents and Trade Marks without charging any professional fee.
In a fast paced world that demands fast paced adaptation and solutions, the firm has certainly been quick to adapt to the need of the hour. In the last two years alone, the firm has developed several AI and Machine Learning driven tools to review, monitor, manage and analyse the IP files and portfolios of its clients for better budgeting, planning and timeline management.
In these fifteen years, there have been several ups and downs. What matters in the end though is that the core values of the firm – Honesty, Integrity & Sincerity have remained unwaveringly firm. It is perhaps this commitment to the core values combined with the willingness to adapt to the needs of the hour and one of a kind synergy between all the members of the firm, that make the firm a pioneer and a premier IP firm.
As Edgar puts it:
“The things that haven’t been done before
Are the tasks worthwhile today;
Are you one of the flock that follows, or
Are you one that shall lead the way?
Are you one of the timid souls that quail
At the jeers of a doubting crew,
Or dare you, whether you win or fail,
Strike out for a goal that’s new?”
We at BananaIP intend to do things not done before and lead the way. Whether we win our fail, always strike out for a goal that’s new.
Having said that, we would like to thank each and every one of our client, partner, mentor, associate, reader, friends and family who have constantly placed faith in us and have helped us reach where we are.