Arpan Banerjee is Assistant Professor, Assistant Dean and Executive Director of the Centre for Intellectual Property & Technology Law at Jindal Global Law School. Arpan's main areas of interest are copyright, trade mark and entertainment law.
The scholarship program is targeted towards university graduates from Brazil, China, India, Russia and the US who have demonstrated an international outlook and leadership experience. Under patronage of the Chancellor and financed by the Federal Foreign Office, the fellowship provides for a year-long stay in Germany to facilitate networking and exploration of new solutions to current global issues.
What is your major research focus at Jindal and here at Bucerius?
I am researching in the field of intellectual property rights, with a focus on trademarks. As a part of my research, I am interviewing German companies and law firms to know more about their experiences in India, and their perceptions of the Indian system.
What are the big issues in your research area?
In India, discussions concerning intellectual property rights have revolved heavily around the issue of pharmaceutical patents. This has also affected overall ratings of Indian intellectual property laws by various entities. I am trying to segregate trademarks from this discourse. Trademarks are perhaps the least controversial of all intellectual property rights, and industries in both developing and developed countries usually seek strong trademark laws.
What was the most rewarding aspect of your stay so far and what would you recommend to others who are thinking of applying for a fellowship?
I am visiting Bucerius Law School on an externally-funded fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, called the German Chancellor’s Fellowship. The Fellowship has been a fantastic experience for me. The Humboldt Foundation supports researchers from all around the world and promotes collaboration between German and foreign institutions. The Foundation offers many grants and other opportunities, which can be viewed at www.humboldt-foundation.de. The Foundation also has links with Bucerius faculty members. My stay at Bucerius has been excellent so far. I would particularly like to thank the Center for Transnational IP, Media and Technology Law and Policy and the International Office for all their support. The best part of my stay is perhaps yet to come, as I’m told that more activities take place in summer compared to winter.
Why did you decide to conduct your research in Germany and at Bucerius in particular?
I wanted to take a break from my job in India to focus on research, as I had some half-written papers and new ones in the pipeline. I then learnt about the German Chancellor’s Fellowship from a friend, and saw it as a great opportunity to focus on my publications. I heard about Bucerius as it has a partnership agreement with my law school in India. On visiting the website, I saw that Bucerius has a very good IP Center, and the law school is also very international.
How do you benefit from Humboldt funding?
The Fellowship from the Humboldt Foundation covers my accommodation and other expenses. The Foundation also organises many wonderful seminars and events. Another good thing about the Fellowship is that it supports a two-month stay in another European country. In my case, I have invitations from Oxford University and King’s College London.
You have been in Germany since October. How do you feel about living here? What was the biggest challenge in settling in Hamburg?
I was in Bonn and Berlin from August to October, and moved to Hamburg in November. I have greatly enjoyed my stay in Germany. Through the Humboldt Foundation’s seminars, I have learnt a lot about German culture, society and business. I think that Germany is easier to adjust to for foreigners than some other EU countries, since most people here speak English. People in Germany are also very helpful. In terms of challenges, I did not know any German before coming here. The Humboldt Foundation organised an intensive language course for the Chancellor’s Fellows for six hours a day for five days a week. However, I found it hard to cope, and I’m not sure if an intensive course is the best way to learn a new language. But I plan to slowly revise the material and then sign up for a part-time course. Another challenge has been with respect to accommodation, but this is a challenge in any major city in the world.