Fair Use

July 9, 2014

Shelley-Yachimovich-Labor-Party

Shelly Yachimovich is a member of the Knesset. She used to be a journalist, and during the incidents in question, was the Head of Israel’s Labour Party.

Danon PR Communications publishes a local newspaper in Modiin –  an Israeli city.

On 6 October 2011, the local paper published an interview of a worker in Yachimovich’ headquarters, that was written by Channa Stern. Yachimovich posted this on her website, and the paper asked for it to be removed and for 40,000 Shekels compensation for copyright infringement. When this tactic didn’t work, the paper sued Yachimovich under Sections 11 and 34 of the 2007 Israel Copyright Act and under Section 1 of the Law Against Unjust Enrichment, claiming statutory damages of 100,000 Shekels and legal costs.

Yachimovich claimed that the article was posted under a section of the website devoted to newspaper articles and that the source was clearly marked. The article was posted by a volunteer, and, on the newspaper complaining, it was removed. Nevertheless, no guilt was admitted.

In her defense, Yachimovich claimed that the interview was in a question & answer format, and thus the copyright belonged to the interviewee and not to the interviewer. Furthermore, she claimed fair use under Section 19 of the Copyright Act. She argued that the article had no inherent value, no potential for resale and no way of monetizing, and that the reposting on her website only gave further coverage to the article and to the local paper to a fresh audience who would otherwise not have been aware of it.

Finally, the paper had used a publicity photo of Yachimovich without her permission. Although this was a PR picture, it had cost money. This raised equal and opposite copyright issues. To the extent that there were grounds for copyright compensation in the publication of the article, Yachimovich was entitled to equal compensation in use of her picture and the two payments should be offset. Attempts to reach a compromise failed, and the court was authorized to rule on the basis of the evidence submitted without cross-examination.

The first issue that the court grappled with was whether an interview is considered copyright of the interviewer, or if it is a list of answers attributed to the interviewee?

The court accepted that there was copyright in interviews if there was at least a minimum of creativity in the wording of the questions or their arrangement and editing. There was a cute reference to Peah 1: 1 which discusses minimum standards for various Biblical commandments, including visiting the Temple on pilgrim holidays, where the term for sighting the Temple, is identical to the term for interview.

The amount of creativity was at least that of tables and anthologies, and on the basis of the work-product definition, there was copyright in the publication.

Posting the article on the internet website, where some 20% of the interview was posted was considered republication.

The interviewer is more than merely a technician and has rights in the interview. The question of joint ownership of interviewer and interviewee is discussed at length, and the understanding developed is that of use of jointly owned real estate by one party.

Fair Use

Various decisions relating to summaries of newspapers has established that merely relating to copyright materials as being a review is not sufficient to create a fair use presumption. One paper cannot simply quote large chunks of another and claim fair use. On the other hand, there are no simple tests of quantity or quality, and the issue is one of context. In this instance, Yachimovich has created an anthology of newspaper articles and source was accredited. The use is non-commercial. There was no compelling reason for reproduction under the public’s right to know, but review purposes are also considered fair use. The article was not reproduced in its totality, but rather a selection was made. The reproduction neither damaged the circulation of the original paper, nor boosted Yachimovich’s website’s circulation. Yachimovich claimed that reproducing such articles was common practice, but didn’t provide evidence of this. Nevertheless, the claim of fair use was upheld.

Moral Rights

Although moral rights create separate grounds for claiming damages, in this instance, the source was attributed, so moral rights were not compromised.

Unjust Enrichment

Since Yachimovich did nothing underhand, did not profit herself, or prevent the plaintiff from profiting from the publication, it was considered unfitting to consider unjust enrichment beyond the copyright issue.

Statutory damages

Having established fair use, the question of statutory damages was moot. Nevertheless, the judge saw fit to expand a little.

The plaintiff claimed that Yachimovich had made “Political Gains” and since she was an ex-journalist herself and a Member of the Knesset, she should be an example to the public. The plaintiff further argued that with statutory damages, there was no requirement to estimate the actual damages. However the defendant argued that 100,000 Shekels was exaggerated and baseless in this case.

The court accepted that the plaintiff could save themselves the trouble of estimating and proving exact damages, but the court had the prerogative to rule less than maximum damages if it saw fit. In this case, the defendant had immediately removed the offending article, there was no damages and no claims of inequitable behaviour.

Shamgar from 592/88 Sagi vs. the Estate of Abraham Ninio (2) 254, 265 (1992), was cited and Judge Michal Agmon-Gonen in Zoom p. 601 was referred to, noting that when ruling damages one has to look at the damages caused and the warning effect.

In this instance, the case was taken down quickly. The creative piece was an interview of low inherent worth, and the plaintiff had no suffered any damages as the website was not a competitor to the local paper. The defendant’s profit was indirect and minor. The article was posted by a junior and there was nothing inequitable in the defendant’s behaviour. The bottom line is that there is copyright infringement. It is covered by the fair use exception and the damages are zero.

Regarding usage of the photo of Shelly Yachimovich, the copyright claim was only made by way of offset and not in its own right, so once the damages to be offset are zero, the issue is moot. Nevertheless, the picture is a PR photo that is supplied for use by papers. It is a creative work and is owned by Ms Yachimovich as it was work for hire, created for her. The paper, despite claiming to be a local non-profit publication had intentionally used this creative work.

The picture was used to add colour to the article and this is generally accepted use of publicity photos. Although the paper is given away free, it is a profit generating paper that lives off advertisements. Nevertheless, the article had newsworthiness and furthers free speech and other values leading to a conclusion of fair use. The photo was attributed to “Yachimovich PR” which indicates that there was no attempt to profit by it. The photo was a PR photo that was used for PR purposes, and this is fair use. Thus there was no grounds to grant damages to Yachimovich for using this photograph in this manner.

Since the defendant had raised counter claims, both parties had conducted themselves fairly, and related to the issues raised, the judge did not see fit to rule costs.

Civil Ruling 57588-05-12 Danon PR Telecommunications vs. Shelly Yachimovich, before Judge Ronit FinShuk Alt, 3 July 2014 

COMMENT

This seems to be a good decision. It is a timely one as well. Plaintiffs are too quick to sue claiming copyright infringement. There is and should be a robust fair use doctrine.


Secondary Use Claims – Some Thoughts…

June 27, 2014

second use

Yesterday I attended a meeting of the Association of Israel Patent Attorneys in ZOA  House, Tel Aviv. The invitation and program were blogged here.

The topic under discussion was Secondary Use Claims. Unfortunately, I arrived late and missed the first talk by Adv. Yair Ziv, but caught most of Adv. David Gilat’s presentation, that of Dr Ron Tomer, and that of Ena Pugatsch.

The event was well-organized and well attended. From the remains of the refreshments by the time I arrived, they seemed the usual ZOA fayre. Kudos to the committee headed by Ex-Commissioner Dr Noam, for organizing the event. There were 85 participants in the meeting. This is impressive for a highly specialized topic at an event open to a small organization (noting with approval however, that there were both lawyers and in-house patent coordinators present that are not patent attorneys and thus not members, and also trainees).

Adv. David Gilat posited that drug patents were necessary to compensate the drug developers for their investment, and that secondary uses were also the result of research.  Dr Ron Tomer (confusingly called Dr Yaron Tomer in the original invitation to the event) expertly and clearly countered all of Davidi’s positions, and demonstrated that the pharma industry were creatively filing secondary uses that lacked inventive step and were obvious. He gave various examples. Firstly, he referred to sildenafil citrate, originally developed for treating angina and now used almost exclusively as a treatment for erectile disfunction, as a hard problem. (I thought it was a flaccid problem and a hard solution, but I digress). He went on to argue that an oncological drug for one type of cancer may fairly obviously be tried for another type of cancer since the underlying effects of the drug would treat both mutant cells the same way.  He noted that patents were not awarded for research but for inventions. He claimed that there was nothing new in the drug, despite the new use. He gave convincing examples of ever-greening, and also argued that if it is surprisingly found that a drug treatment for gastro-reflux also kills bacteria in the stomach, then the patient using it takes the same drug for the same purpose that he took it for originally. Since the drug is public domain he could take the generic drug, but to kill the bacteria, he’d have to take the patented drug for a couple of weeks and then move back to the generic. similarly, someone taking a generic statin for cholesterol, on being diagnosed as having genetic cholesterol, would have to switch to the patented version offering protection for this ‘secondary use.’ The talk was intelligent and entertaining, and it was a valuable demonstration of the ubsurd results of secondary use patents.

Ena Pugatsch gave an example of a secondary use claim for a mechanical device that issued in Israel and was upheld by the courts. The device in question was a blackboard that could be used as a screen for showing projected images, where the device and method of manufacture were known but the secondary use wasn’t, and the court upheld the patent. Comparing to European case-law and to US law, she felt that the ruling was ‘problematic’ (a nice way of saying that she considered that the court had got it wrong).

When the floor was opened for questions Mr Zebulun Tomer (Ron’s father and the director of Unipharm) took the opportunity, as he has done on other occasions, to give a little impassioned speech, rather than a question. He made some noises about the results of lobbying and argued that Section 7 prohibits therapeutic treatment of the person and that no-one can convince him that a secondary use is anything other than a method of treatment of the person. Instead of merely pointing out that the issue wasn’t convincing him, but of convincing neutral judge, Adv. David Gilat agreed with him, but said that this was precisely what the Use Claim (Swiss type claims) were for – that is, to allow patents for pharmaceutical methods of treatment despite the prohibition for patents for methods of therapeutic treatment, and this was because of the costs incurred in research and development.

COMMENTS

David Gilat spoke well as would be expected from an experienced litigator. Dr Tomer’s response was also very clear and well constructed. Ena Pugatsch is not an orator, nor is Hebrew her first language (or, I expect, her second language). Nevertheless, her talk, though not the most fluent, was the most thought provoking. All three speakers had far too much content per slide, but none are lecturers. Designing good slides is an art.

David and Ron each presented their opposing positions. As Gilat Bareket represents drug development companies and the Tomer family own Unipharm which manufactures generic drugs, their views were hardly unexpected. I suspect that those in the audience actively involved in prosecuting or litigating pharmaceuticals have equally strong positions based on their source of income. (Richard Luthi, another leading litigator who represents pharma, once told me that under the former Commissioner Dr Noam, the pharmaceutical development industry didn’t have a chance. Whether Dr Naom was biased, whether Unipharm had better arguments, or whether Adi Levit is simply a better litigator, is open to discussion).

The percentage of my income coming from work on pharmaceutical patents is very small. I’ve been involved with both local and foreign clients on both sides of the fence. I tend to find the generic companies’ arguments more persuasive, but can’t tell if this is an inherent bias or whether their arguments are actually better. It is also possible that drugs that are opposed or challenged in cancellation procedures are ones that generally should not have issued, and the both the drug development industries and their litigators have an uphill battle. What is clear, is that Unipharm have had some impressive victories in recent years against Mercke, Smithkline Glaxco, Lunbeck, etc.

Ena’s talk got me thinking. I believe that the original Section 7 law against methods of therapeutic treatment is a historic artefact designed to protect doctors from being sued and represents a moral position that despite obvious utility, novelty and inventive-step, such subject matter would not be patentable. It is a remnant from a period predating the modern pharmaceutical industry. David is correct however. Without effective patent protection, drug development companies would not invest the significant sums required to research and bring a new drug to market. The long approval period also justifies patent term extensions. This development is indeed the result of lobbying, but is, nevertheless, justified. What may not have been justified, is to apply the extensions on cases that were already filed, granting the pharma industry a massive handout that perhaps resulted in them NOT investing in developing new drugs.

Drug developing companies can fairly be accused of ever-greening, and their tactics in filing for secondary uses are commercially driven. However, despite the Special 301 Reports, the generic drug industry are not Robin Hood like outlaws. It is there right to challenge the validity of patents, and some applications are allowed that shouldn’t be. Nevertheless, I suspect that sometimes oppositions are filed for commercial rather than solid legal reasons.

The Swiss Claim (use claim) format is a legal work-around the method of therapeutic treatment clause. Use claims are acceptable in European and Israeli law and are essentially method claims. They do not exist in the US, however in the US one can file methods for therapeutic treatment. What one cannot do, is enforce them against the doctor or surgeon.

After TRIPS, it is clear that one cannot exclude drugs from patent protection. One can still have a principle against patenting methods of treatment. However, countries have to allow patent protection for drugs.

As David Gilat reminded us, patent term extensions were indeed allowed as a package with and justified by a bone thrown to the generic industry – the so-called TEVA amendment, allowing the generic companies to experiment and obtain marketing approval, but not to stock-pile generic patents prior to the patent terminating.  However, one right does not balance the other. Mr Zebulun Tomer is correct that the current balance is the result of lobbying. There were lobbyists on both sides. The ‘one size fits all’ patent law does fail for pharmaceutical patents if such patents have, in the past, been allowed after the 20 year expiry date.

As to second use, the first thing to understand is that use claims are method claims and should be treated as such. The Rav Bareakh crook-lock ruling by the Israel Supreme Court allows contributory infringement and inducement to infringe. However, in Srori vs. Regba, the fact that a sink could be mounted flush with the work surface was insufficient grounds to grant an injunction against the importer, since, As Adi Levit argued effectively, the sinks in question could be mounted under the work-surface, or could be mounted with the lip overlapping the work surface (over-mounted) or could be filled with earth and used as a flower-pot.  Thus, the proper infringers were the kitchen installation companies, and there was no effective bottle neck to sue in the supply chain.  Getting back to secondary uses for drugs, lets assume that using aspirin to dilute blood to prevent thrombosis is indeed novel and inventive. This does not prevent patients buying aspirin over the counter for treating aches and pains and then using it for the new patented use. Manufacturers of aspirin are not infringing the secondary use patent. Similarly, generally speaking, patents for secondary uses are not for the drug itself, but for its use in treating a particular illness. They are method claims. I agree with Dr Ron Tomer that the manufacturer is generally not the infringing party. The physician or patient might be, that the US exception against suing health care officials should apply. There are, of course, some particular dosages that are borderline cases. In such cases, the newly packaged drug is a new product. Whether or not, it is also inventive, is arguable.

Referring back to the blackboard; Ena is correct, it was not a new product, nor was its method of manufacture new. The novelty lay in the method of use, i.e. for projecting an image thereonto. The patent provided grounds for suing schools and teachers for direct infringing – both customers of the patentee and of competitors. This is a patent without teeth. If competing manufacturers note that their blackboards may also serve as a screen, is this inducement to infringe? Maybe it would be better for them to note that although the blackboards may be used as screens, this use is protected by Israel Patent Number IL XXXX, and as long as the patent is valid, is not allowed. This is very different from the crook-lock case where the imported part was designed and manufactured for combining with two common elements to provide the crook-lock, and could only be used for infringing the patent, or for a trivial use such as a paper-weight or land fill.

At the end of the day, it is the job of the patent attorney to draft patentable and enforceable claims. I note that in the US, the pendulum has recently swung away from secondary infringement. See US Supreme Court Ruling 12–786 Limelight Networks v Akamai Technologies Inc et al., June 2, 2014. I believe that often these cases result from poor claim drafting, as do Marksman disagreements. In the past, I drafted and successfully prosecuted a  patent for a kitchen sink AFTER Tsrori vs. Negba. See  US6782593B1.  I’ve also had fun drafting together with Adv. and Patent Attorney Tami Winitz a patent for a new method of using an existing heart valve, where I believe the creative claim-set provides enforceability. See US8408214B2.  Patent attorneys drafting applications try to protect their client’s inventions and stretch the law. Litigators opposing patents do the opposite. We all have our roles to play.

 


Franchisee for Sports Broadcasting Fails to Uphold Rights Against Restaurant Screening Matches

June 25, 2014

Football on TV

Charlton LTD claims to be the franchisee with exclusive rights to license the broadcasting of sporting events and sports channels to satellite and cable distributors in Israel. E.M.T. Gormet LTD is a restaurant that screened sports events for benefit of their patrons. Charlton sued the restaurant and its owners for Copyright Infringement, claiming 85,000 Shekels in statutory damages.

Judge Hadassah Assif of the Hadeira Magistrate’s Court threw the case out and ruled costs of 1500 Shekels against the plaintiff.

The Ruling

Citing Appeal to Supreme Court 2173/94 Tele-Event vs. Golden Channels 55 (5) 529, Judge Hadassah Assif  accepted that there was copyright in sports events. Such copyright belongs to the producers or to licensees. In this case, Charlton was not the producer, but claimed to be a licensee. However, Charlton did not provide evidence of having any contract with producers covering the period of alleged infringement.  Thus despite proving that the restaurant had shown sporting events, Charlton could not prove that they had rights to the copyright. Claims of Unjust Enrichment were similarly dismissed.

As to the owners of the company, the court ruled that companies always have owners and actions of companies are generally performed by people. However, company law distances the owners from actions by the company, and one has to show good reason for raising the mask provided by the company as a legal entity.

It was considered insufficient to merely show court rulings and a licensing agreement from a period three years before the alleged infringement and to claim that the legal circumstances were the same. No evidence to the effect that the existing agreement was automatically renewed was produced.  In the absence of a contract clause or a general principle of law, Charlton failed to establish that they had rights in the sporting event.


Teva Announces Favorable European Patent Office Ruling in COPAXONE® Patent Proceeding

May 27, 2014

copaxone loepard spots

In a press release distributed by Business Wire, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.  has announced that the European Patent Office issued a decision in favor of Teva in a patent opposition proceeding filed by Synthon BV, Mylan and an unidentified third party. On September 6, 2012, the three opponents commenced an opposition proceeding against European Patent EP 2 177 528, a patent for COPAXONE® (glatiramer acetate injection) that expires September 9, 2025.

In today’s hearing, the European Patent Office specifically determined that claims 1-12 of the ‘528 patent are valid. Therefore infringing follow-on glatiramer products would not be able to launch prior to patent expiry.


Led Zeppelin sued for Copyright Infringement in Stairway to Heaven

May 27, 2014

stairway led zeppelin

Forty years later, Led Zeppelin is being sued for copyright infringement in their hit Stairway to Heaven.

The estate of a Los Angeles musician Randy California (born Randy Wolfe) who died in 1997,has gone to court to accuse Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of copying one of “Stairway’s” now-famous guitar parts from  Spirit’s earlier work “Taurus.” In an interview before he died, California once noted the similarity between the two passages and that Led Zep, before its members became rock royalty, had been the opening act of an American tour for Spirit.  See here for more details.

This case is reminiscent of the Australian Men at Work case, where a guitar riff was apparently taken from the girl guide song Kukabarra. There, the lead singer eventually committed suicide.

I think that copying elements of a song ad reusing them in a new piece of work should be considered fair use. I am not judging the case though.


INTA – Washout

May 11, 2014

PHILIPS

I flew into Hong Kong for INTA 2014 on the Thursday night direct ElAl flight from Tel Aviv. It seems like I was not the only Israeli IP Professional to take advantage of this convenient transport that enabled conventioneers to leave Tel Aviv after the end of the Israeli working week, and arrived Friday Afternoon, three or four hours before Shabbat. There must have been 50-60 colleagues on the plane. It occurred to me that I could have held a reception in the Airport lounge. If I had thought of it earlier, we could have perhaps organized a charter plane. The last hour or so of the flight was uncomfortable, with the plane being buffeted around. On landing, my luggage was almost the first one on the carousel, but it didn’t really help as I had to wait for my brother to come through customs and predictably, his was the last off. We took a train to Kowloon and a courtesy bus to the hotel.

Last time I was Shabbat in Hong Kong, I stayed at the Bishop Lei hotel and prayed and ate at the Jewish Community Center on Robinson’s Road. This trip my brother fancied something different, so we checked into a Kowloon Hotel and went to the Sephardic Synagogue. Sheldon Klein and Elbasz from Holland were at the Synagogue. I understand that there were a few other patent and trademark attorneys in Chabad and others in the Jewish Community Center and Sassoon Synagogue. Unfortunately we got totally soaked trying to get to the Synagogue from the hotel. The rain was so heavy that one literally couldn’t see where one was going. As we didn’t know the way, it hardly mattered.

The prayers at the Sefardaic Synagogue Hechal Ezra – were very pleasant. The food Friday night was excellent. There were a range of salads and fish dishes, including Japanese style raw fish, Morrocan style spicy fish (Chreime), East European style gefilte fish, and English style cod. The main course included a choice of chicken drumsticks, stuffed breast of chicken, roast beef and stuffed mushrooms. Coffee was served with cake and tropical fruit.The Shabbat morning service started at a civilized and very English 9 am. The preliminary hymns took almost an hour. After the rabbi spoke on the importance of Charity, the Aliyot were auctioned to rai se funds towards purchasing a new building. The additional Shabbat service, musaf, was rushed to finish by 12 PM. Lunch was less spectacular than the Friday night fare. There was a range of starters, including some excellent chopped liver and more gefilte fish, which was surprising for a Sephardic Synagogue. There was also a sort of chamin – cholent type dish, but no other hot meat, which was somewhat odd, as generally sefardaic communities are lenient with reheating solid food, and there was definitely beef left over from the previous evening.In addition to locals, there were businessmen from Panama, the US, Latin America, Israel and Europe. There were a couple of other patent attorneys. The service, the food and the atmosphere was distinctly cosmopolitan.

On the Sunday, we went to the conference center which seems to have 4 or 5 floors and confusingly, registration, once we found it, was only for those who hadn’t pre-paid – which was clearly a minority. Once I found the registration desk, I was redirected to Check-in, which is apparently where those who have checked in have to collect their name tags. From Check-In, on a different floor, in a different part of the convention center, there were some more up-escalators, 500 yard hikes and down-escalators to where one can collect the conference bags, and a few floor changes and more walking to find the exhibition area. The hospitality area was so large, with so many entrances and gates to the exhibition hall that I don’t think it was possible to actually rendez-vous with a colleague for a pre-arranged meeting, and certainly not with someone who one didn’t actually know by face. It was probably good that I had no interest in attending lectures, since it would have been next to impossible to find a lecture hall and then find one’s way back through the maze of the conference center.

I don’t know how Jeremy did it, but there was a building just behind the Conference Center with a big PHILIPS sign on the roof. Unfortunately, it was spelled the Dutch electrical way with one L, but it was, nevertheless, a fitting tribute to one of the most eminent trademark experts and bloggers.

There seemed to be the regular crowd of Europeans, but more Asians and less Americans than usual. As India is a relatively close 4 or 5 hours flight from Hong Kong, the Indian sub-continent was well-represented, and during a speed-networking session, I found myself opposite several Indian and Pakistani practitioners. Having been accosted by various tailors in Kowloon offering suits and shirts, and suffering jet-lag, it was difficult to focus on the fact that I was being offered IP services and not simply been asked my inside-leg measurements.

I was actually bespoken for, wearing a blazer, shirt, silk tie and high quality wool trousers made-to-measure on a previous trip to Hong Kong. I can certainly recommend that those who’ve never tried it, invest in the suit-in-two-days option. Hong Kong tailoring is not cheap, but the quality of the workmanship and the fabrics is first class.

The exhibition hall featured a lot of practitioners, particularly, but by no means exclusively from Asia. There was, however, a dearth of swag. I suspect I will have to go to shopping for the kids before flying home.

There seem to be fewer receptions than usual, and fewer taxis to transport one through the rain. That and the rain seemed to result in more attorneys being at the Opening Reception than usual. For some reason, there was no Kosher food at the opening event. INTA is normally considerate and organized. Usually there is a Kosher table. The regular minyan of Observant practitioners were rather annoyed; particularly those who’d bought accompanying adults and had paid for additional tickets for them. The catering manager was a Ms Hilary Cohen, who was sympathetic, but unable to solve the problem.

It was an ideal opportunity to network with Iranians, Egyptian, Lebanese, Quatar and Jordanian colleagues. Not likely to bring in lots of work, but nevertheless, valuable third-level diplomacy.


Trademarks in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank

April 30, 2014

Borders change. Infringement Continues

Israel

Israeli trademark law is governed by the Trademark Ordinance (New Version) 1972 (“the Trademarks Ordinance”). The Trademarks Ordinance applies only to the territory of the State of Israel, i.e. the territory over which Israel has extended its sovereignty. This includes Jerusalem, both East and West, and the Golan Heights. However, Israel Trademark Law does not apply in the West Bank or in Gaza. West Bank trademark law is based on the Jordanian Trademark Act of 1952. Gaza trademark law is based on Egyptian Trademark Law. The Palestinian Authority maintains separate trademark Offices in the West Bank and in Gaza. The registration of trademark rights is conducted separately in each of those jurisdictions. The three trademark laws applying between the Jordan and Mediterranean are fairly similar since the laws are based on the British Trade Marks Act 1905.

Israeli trademark protection may be obtained under the Madrid Protocol. Neither the West Bank nor Gaza are party to the Madrid Protocol. In Israel, trademark registrations are valid for 10 years, and may then be renewed for additional 10 year periods. In the West Bank and Gaza, a trademark registration is valid for an initial period of 7 years from the application date, and renewable for subsequent periods of 14 years each.

Most imports to the area come through Israeli ports which will stop goods believed to infringe trademarks registered in Israel. Israel is active in enforcing IP rights, and has an effective police and court system. IP enforcement in the Palestinian administered territories is less easy. Where there is room for profit, there is temptation to cheat and there have been cases of counterfeit DVDs, detergents and liqueur made in Israel. The situation in the Palestinian administered territories is currently worse, but is improving. The sheer volume of traffic crossing the borders creates opportunities for smuggling. So to help enforce trademarks effectively, we recommend registering marks in all three jurisdictions.

We have developed a good relationship with a Palestinian attorney who is managing partner of a Palestinian Law firm and is licensed to practice in both the West Bank and Gaza has a Masters degree from a UK university and excellent English who will be attending INTA. If you’d like to meet with us at INTA discuss registration and enforcement in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, and to receive discounted costs by registering in the three jurisdictions, please contact us.


AKUM Received injunction against Arab Music Website

April 22, 2014

Music Pirate

Judge Adi Zarnkin of the Haifa District Court has accepted charges brought by AKUM (Israeli artist’s copyright collection society) and Societe des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Editeurs de Musique – SACEM a French copyright association that AKUM serves as a collection agency in Israel, that the INTERNET site Kol ElArav, had played some 20 musical creations without approval, and that AKUM could collect sue on behalf of SACEM. The sum sued for was 1 million shekels. Allegations of direct responsibility of the directors of the internet site were rejected.  Counter-claims that the songs were owned by an Egyptian production company or that the website had paid royalties were dismissed as unfounded.

A permanent injunction was granted, and, considering the infringement as a single event, or alternatively ruling that there was no justification to collect maximum damages for each song, the defendant was ordered to pay 75,000 Shekels compensation.  Furthermore, the judge decided that both sides should bear their own legal fees.

T.A. 60240-05-12 AKUM LTD et al. vs. Col El Arav et al. Haifa District Court, Judge Adi Zankin, 8 April 2014


Camtek announces that they have been caught infringing

April 7, 2014

camtek rudolh

Generally press releases published by companies are about the publishing company filing suit against others infringing their IP, or a court ruling in their favour. In a weird development, Camtek, an Israeli wafer imaging and processing company has announced that the district court of Minnesota has entered a summary judgment finding that certain previous models of Camtek’s Falcon systems were capable of infringing upon two claims of a Rudolph patent in the United States.

See here  for more details. Perhaps not surprisingly, Camtek’s shares dropped over 3% on the day.


Should Israel Patent Office Hear a Trademark Cancellation Proceedings Where there is an Infringement Case before the Courts?

April 6, 2014

cube in hand

In June last year, I reported on a decision to allow the shape of the Rubik’s Cube to be filed as a trademark. See here  the mark is Israel Trademark No. IL 228232.

A request to have the mark canceled was filed by Dan S. LTD, To Buy Market LTD and Lula Pozalov.

Since there are pending cases regarding trademark infringement before the District Court, which were filed prior to the cancellation proceedings being initiated, there is a question whether the patent office should hear the cancellation proceeding, or should suspend it, pending the outcome of the case in the District Court.

The request to cancel was filed on 22 October 2013, after Civil Proceedings No. 61560—05-13 was filed in the Central District Court. In the District Court, one of the charges was trademark infringement and one of the defenses offered was that the mark should not have been registered. There is thus duplication of the case in two forums.

Ruling

The Commissioner of Patents, Assa Kling ruled that in  8/78 El Okvi vs. Israel Land Administration, P.D. 29 (2) 477 the Supreme Court ruled that where substantially the same question is addressed in two separate proceedings, despite slight differences in the parties and in the style of the complaint, it may be unfair for the defendant to have to address the same issue twice. The question to be addressed is whether hearing the same case in two forums is a fair use of the court’s time. The court case in the District Court covers the validity of the trademark, trademark infringement and additional issues such as passing off and unjust enrichment. The District Court can and will rule on the validity of the mark and so it makes sense for the Patent Office to refrain from doing so, both to avoid double work and to avoid the embarrassing event of the two forums coming to different outcomes.

In the circumstances, the cancellation proceedings in the Patent Office are stayed pending the court decision.

Comment

The decision makes sense. I think it is good that Israel doesn’t have a bifurcated system like in Germany, and that a legitimate defence against infringement can be that the mark or patent should never have registered. In this case I don’t think the mark should have been granted, and hope the court throws it out. That as may be, it certainly makes sense for the Patent Office to await the court’s decision.


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