Dr Ilan Sadeh is a mathematician, computer scientist and electrical engineer who claims that back in 1992 he developed some boundary condition theory concerning search engines and databases, thereby solving a problem which was not addressed for over 40 years. He was put out that his name wasn’t mentioned and his contribution wasn’t acknowledged in a review paper written by a Stanford academic – Professor Amir Dumbo, together with a student, and published in an IEEE journal edited by Professor Shlomo Shitz-Shamai. Professor Neri Merhav and Professor Ram Zamir also published articles in the IEEE journal, which failed to mentioned Sadeh’s contribution.
Sadeh sued the four academics and the IEEE for NIS 800,000 for copyright infringement, moral right infringement, malpractice by failure to exhibit due care and unjust enrichment.
The defendants requested for the case to be thrown out.
In the ruling, the court of first instance ruled that failure to reference or acknowledge an earlier researcher is not actionable under copyright law. Since there is no copyright in an idea, there is no moral right either. Charges of Unjust Enrichment and failure to take due care were also dismissed. The court further ruled that the first three defendants hadn’t done anything actionable. As for the US academic and the publisher, the court ruled that the charges were not properly served to the Stamford academic or to the publishers (IEEE – Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers). Since Professor Amir Dumbo emigrated to the United States in 1989 and was domiciled there, the Court of First Instance accepted that Israeli courts were not the correct forum. Furthermore, the court ruled that since Sadeh claimed that some 9 academic publications has wronged him in a similar way, the addition of two Israeli defendants was simply to try to create territorial jurisdiction in Israel for something where the US was clearly the proper jurisdiction to hear the case. The court also accepted Professor Dumbo’s contention that the case had been heard by a committee of academics appointed by the IEEE and again on appeal.
158219-09 Dr Ilan Sadeh vs. Professor Shlomo Shitz-Shamai, Professor Neri Merhav, Professor Ram Zamir, Profesor Amir Dumbo and the IEEE., Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court 7 July 2010
On 12 November 2013, the Tel Aviv District Court rejected the appeal, upholding the magistrate’s court ruling. It awarded costs of NIS 11,800 to the Israeli academics (defendants 1-3 together, and to the US academic and the journal independently.
Civil Action 11416-09-10 Dr Ilan Sadeh vs. Professor Shlomo Shitz-Shamai, Professor Neri Merhav, Professor Ram Zamir, Profesor Amir Dumbo and the IEEE, Tel Aviv District Court
Dr Sadeh then appealed to the Supreme Court. Judge Amnon Rubinstein refused to reopen the case, and was dismissive of arguments brought by Dr Sadeh. From his comments, it would appear that Dr Sadeh did not address the issues raised and his legal pleadings were lacking in format and style.
It appears that Dr Sadeh has sued Ben Gurion University, Tel Hai academic college and the State of Israel in the past. Since he has so much hands on experience of litigation, I feel it is perhaps inappropriate of me to criticize. Nevertheless, I would respectfully point out that whilst one does not have to retain the services of an attorney to sue in Israel, it is generally strongly advised for anyone planning on litigation, particularly appealing to the Supreme Court, to use an attorney. There are approximately 55,000 of them in Israel.
The District Court cited the Petach Tikveh Doggy DNA case and Angel vs. Berman. Also cited were the Adidas case. I found the legalese unnecessary and tiring. The cited cases were not really relevant and, in my opinion, are best forgotten.
We note that there is a distinction between copyright and Jewish Law in this matter. In Jewish Law, there is an obligation to credit sources, but copying of ideas and using them is not considered wrong or inappropriate. They are in the public domain automatically, but the authors deserve credit. In Copyright Law, crediting sources is not a legal requirement, but quoting a significant amount is an actionable.