Professor Shlomo Ben Chaim and Dr Amir Arev of the Volcani Institute filed patents for freezing cells, tissues and limbs through a company Core Dynamics IMT that is by the researchers. However, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, the technology was developed during work at the State owned Volcani Research Institute, and so the State considers that the inventions are service inventions that are owned by the State.
Adv. Dikla Shalev Amsalem of the State Attorney Office together with a litigator in a private Law firm sued the researchers for 40,000,000 Shekels.
Unlike the universities which have a mechanism in place to ensure that patent applications are filed and that inventors are compensated with 40% – 50% of the royalties, the govt. research institutes and hospitals have only recently began to look into developing tech transfer offices and to compensate inventors. Presumably if the development initiative is commercially successful, the inventors and their firm are paying taxes and providing employment in Israel, so the country is getting some not insignificant compensation from the commercialization without having taken the risk of investment therein.
There hasn’t been a serious ruling by the Israel Courts on rights by the State to inventions by civil servants, and how the Patent Law is or isn’t modified by the basic laws of property. Maybe this case will result in such a ruling.
This is the second time that the State has sued entrepreneurs and private companies alleging that the patents for the underlying inventions were developed by government employees and claiming them to be service inventions of the State. The other case, State of Israel vs. Omrix, concerned an adhesive that includes a blood clotting factor. For further details, see here.