Demise of Dr Vidya Sagar, Indian IP Legend

With great sadness, we bring you news of the demise of Dr. Vidya Sagar, Senior Partner at Remfry & Sagar and doyen of Indian IP. He was 85 and passed away last afternoon.
In many ways, he was the father of Indian IP, having built up one of the foremost IP law firms in the country, after having taken it over in 1973. Most of the leading IP professionals today were trained by Dr Sagar during their stint at Remfry and Sagar. The IP community in India (as also globally) owes a lot to this visionary leader. We hope that his spirit will continue to guide us as we aim to improve on the foundation that he constructed so well.

I found this wonderful passage from a Business World article that gives us some insights into Dr Sagar’s personality, particularly his “reclusive” nature, in sharp contrast to the aggressive marketing types that New Delhi routinely breeds.

“The elderly gentleman with bushy eyebrows having lunch at a corner table in the 8th floor cafeteria of law firm Remfry & Sagar could be mistaken for just another senior employee. Unless, of course, you know that he is the Vidya Sagar — the reclusive, 85-year old, legendary senior partner of India’s largest intellectual property rights (IPR) law firm. We didn’t know.

Rarely seen in public, and even more rarely photographed, Sagar had set a “no photo shoot” pre-condition for our meeting. He is averse to general media interactions too — and this is the first interview he has given in years. Face-to-face, he set another condition: he would give all the background we needed on this business. But everything would be off-the-record.

Once that was agreed upon, he sat down and spent the next two hours chatting passionately about the history of the IPR business in India. After the meeting, he escorts us for a round of the firm’s five floors. His pace is hard to match for us, who are 4-5 decades younger than him.

Vidya Sagar is the doyen of India’s IPR business, and he represents the biggest of IPR law firms here. Remfry & Sagar (set up in 1827) is almost three times as big as its nearest rivals — Delhi-based Anand & Anand (1923), Chennai’s DePenning & DePenning (1856), and Kolkata-based DP Ahuja & Co. (1971).”

Am also copying below the doleful message that was sent out by Dr Sagar’s firm:

A barrister at Lincoln’s Inn and a doctor from the Free University, Berlin, Dr. Sagar earned a reputation as one of the country’s most formidable legal minds soon after admission to the Indian bar in 1952. He took over the practice of Remfry & Son in 1973 (renamed Remfry & Sagar in 1991) and with his unique talents steered the firm to become the Indian face of Intellectual Property law.

His consuming passion for developing young talent also found expression in the Sagar School, which he nurtured so lovingly. Of sharp mind and strong will, uncompromising in his insistence on the highest standards of professional integrity and conduct, he was unfazed by difficulties. He was a visionary but a rather unassuming one as he shunned the limelight.

For all those who had the privilege of knowing him personally, none can forget the sheer range of his experiences and the depth of his curiosity. He leaves behind a giant legacy and his loss is an irreparable one for family, friends and colleagues all over the world.

Shamnad Basheer

Shamnad Basheer

Prof. (Dr.) Shamnad Basheer founded SpicyIP in 2005. He's also the Founder of IDIA, a project to train underprivileged students for admissions to the leading law schools. He served for two years as an expert on the IP global advisory council (GAC) of the World Economic Forum (WEF). In 2015, he received the Infosys Prize in Humanities in 2015 for his work on legal education and on democratising the discourse around intellectual property law and policy. The jury was headed by Nobel laureate, Prof. Amartya Sen. Professional History: After graduating from the NLS, Bangalore Prof. Basheer joined Anand and Anand, one of India’s leading IP firms. He went on to head their telecommunication and technology practice and was rated by the IFLR as a leading technology lawyer. He left for the University of Oxford to pursue post-graduate studies, completing the BCL, MPhil and DPhil as a Wellcome Trust scholar. His first academic appointment was at the George Washington University Law School, where he served as the Frank H Marks Visiting Associate Professor of IP Law. He then relocated to India in 2008 to take up the MHRD Chaired Professorship in IP Law at WB NUJS, a leading Indian law school. Later, he was the Honorary Research Chair of IP Law at Nirma University and also a visiting professor of law at the National Law School (NLS), Bangalore. Prof. Basheer has published widely and his articles have won awards, including those instituted by ATRIP, the Stanford Technology Law Review and CREATe. He was consulted widely by the government, industry, international organisations and civil society on a variety of IP issues. He also served on several government committees.


  1. AvatarAnonymous

    It is really sad to note that chapter has closed its wings due to sad demise of Dr. Sagar, I would like to further and would bring to your knowledge that Anand & Anand law firm was not established in the year 1923, as far as I know It was established much later.

  2. AvatarTarun

    It is extremely sad to hear this news and knowing about the sudden demise of Dr. Sagar. Having met with him at a few APAA conferences, Dr. Sagar always stood out with his strong personality and sense of humor and we would always look forward to him as our Mentor..Tarun Khurana

  3. AvatarAnonymous

    He was undoubtedly a great man. A tremendous visionary, a man of class with typical tongue-in-cheek humour – he touched the lives of numerous people in more ways than one. For those of us who were personally associated with him, he shall always remain an inspiration.


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