So Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba (Genesis 46)

April 14, 2015

park Carusso

Yesterday I enjoyed a pleasant trip down South to attend the WIPO Roving Seminar in Beer Sheva. The drive was pleasant. Negev is very verdant and the ornithology was good, with a lot of storks and black kites and the odd short-toed eagle in evidence. The event started at 9:30, and, with considerably less congestion getting into Beer Sheva than into Tel Aviv, I arrived at 9:15 am at the Carusso Science Park.

Moshe Lemberg, the Senior Program Officer at WIPO who organized the event introduced himself to me and hoped that I would blog about the refreshments. I thought this was a little surprising as the rogelach and burekas were fairly standard fayre but did make a welcome breakfast. Unfortunately however, the 3 litre hot water urn was inadequate to the task and I was unable to make myself a coffee. That had an adverse affect on my concentration during the first part of the program, and I noted that after Dr Daniel Ben Oliel presented the prize for Excelling Academic thesis in various fields of IP [sic] there were three or four competitors who presented brief talks on their papers for the Israel Patent Office Competition, but have no idea what they talked about. The chairs were too comfortable, I’d left home at 7 am and I was too far away from the screen. My neighbor kept nudging me. I suspect I was snoring a little. I went to the bathroom, washed my face and had a coffee (botz, using water from the now refilled urn), and went back in sitting closer to the front. This was a great improvement and I found the sessions interesting, stimulating and enjoyable.

Those wanting a review of the early sessions are respectfully referred to the IPKAT where the Doyen of IP Bloggers, Professor Jeremy Phillips has some insightful and relevant comments. See here.  For inciteful and irrelevant ones, read on!

Professor Phillips notes that there were 98 registrants. He was sitting in the back corner and was better situated to count heads than I was. I do try to keep tally on these events however, and did a head count on three occasions throughout the day. I noted 60 in the audience. With 5 rovers from WIPO and a large contingent from the patent office, this was less than impressive. I hope that the Haifa event on Tuesday is better attended, and as the program is largely the same, can highly recommend it.

PCT

PC Tea

PC Tea

Mr Matthew Bryan, the director of the PCT Legal Division gave a brief review of the PCT system and recent developments, and the amicable and helpful Dr Michael Bart who heads up the Israel Receiving Office spke about recent changes there. The local Beer Sheva (actually Omer – but who’se counting?) Mukhtar Patent Attorney, Dr Kfir Luzzatto joined Matthew and Michael, and gave some thoughts on the PCT, how Israel joining the system had affected the profession, and how he views International Search Reports from the Israel Patent Office.

Trademarks and Designs

Ms Debbie Roenning, Director of the Legal Division Madrid Register, Brands and Designs Section (BDS) spoke on Madrid system for trademark registration and then on the Hague system for Design Registration.  As well as showing which countries had signed up, she showed which countries were in the process of signing up which was useful. She also had some tips regarding tailoring goods for different jurisdictions, translating the list of goods into Hebrew, adding countries to an existing application and varying classes per country that were very informative.

Ms Anat Levi Sofer spoke briefly about trademarks and Madrid from the perspective of the Israel Patent Office and considered Israel joining Madrid a great success. Ms Ronit Bazik Sofer, head of trademarks at Reinhold Cohn represented the private sector and noted that she had been apprehensive of Israel joining Madrid and indeed, there had been a drop off in work since Israel joined, but with increased prosecution, things had evened out.

Knowing the official figures regarding trademarks filed directly into Israel and via Madrid, and Madrid marks originating in Israel, I think that both Ms Anat Levi Sofer and Ms Ronit Bazik Sofer were being less than objective. (Reinhold Cohn has too large a market segment for their practice not to follow the official statistics). Israel is very good at creating technology, but is less successful at launching international brands. Madrid has not been widely used by Israeli companies. It is possible that with additional prosecution resulting from more trademark applications designating Israel, workers in the trademark office and in private practice feel that they are busy. However, without the lucrative filing and with renewals handled centrally or by bucket shops, the revenues generated are lower that revenues once were. This is true of both patent office revenue and income to IP firms.

There was an opportunity to ask questions. In her first slide, Ms Roenning had shown various recent Israel trademarks filed by Israelis. The slide also included WIPO’s logo. It was tempting to ask why they had chosen what look’s like a roll of toilet paper, but I decided that it would unnecessarily cheapen the event.

Wipe-o

WIPE-O !

WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center

Mr Matthew Bryan gave a presentation regarding WIPO’s arbitration and mediation services.  It was certainly worthwhile reminding those present that there are alternative methods of dispute resolution, and that going to court is not the only option.

Databases

Mr. Yoshiyuki Takagi spoke about WIPO’s databases such as WIPO Green and WIPO Re:Search. This brought some useful online tools to the attention of participants.

Lunch

ravioli

We were pleasantly surprised that WIPO / Patent Office had laid on a sumptuous buffet of ravioli, pizza, macaroni, cheese rolls, garlic bread, quiches, cheeses and salads. Had this been a couple of days after Shavuot (Pentacost) this may have seemed more of the same, but after a week of Pesach, noone passed over the opportunity to dine on hametz.

Copyright 

real life

Mr. Paolo Lanteri, the Legal Officer, Copyright Law Division, Culture and Creative Industries Sector, WIPO spoke about the gaming industry. It seems that I was far from the only participant who wasn’t a gamer. I put this down to a combination of the audience being middle aged nerds.

It was fascinating to learn that the gaming industry is more significant financially than feature films and music combined. Happily people still read.

It seems that protecting IP in games is a complicated issue. The talk was very informative.

Questions were solicited and I made a case for moving over to registration of copyright and shorter periods of protection since I consider the system as broken. Jeremy Phillips took issue with my position and argued that most people in practice can do most of what they want and that the system does give redress for abuses. We continued arguing in the car back to Jerusalem.

Closing session

men in suits

The WIPO representatives and the Commissioner got on stage together as a panel. It was reassuring with INTA coming up, to note that my charcoal suit is apparently in fashion for IP events.

Dr Luzzatto took the opportunity to ask about Arab countries boycotting Israel, giving the example of Jordan that, despite a peace agreement, in practice the legal profession there won’t represent Israelis.

Mr Matthew Bryan first dodged the question by noting that Jordan was not a signatory to the PCT. As Kfir would not let things go at that, he rather sensibly pointed out that WIPO strongly condemns Arab countries discriminating against Israel, and writes strongly worded letters noting that such countries are not living up to their international obligations. He did, however, point out WIPO does not have enforcement police and their influence is very limited.

The Commissioner noted that Israel could theoretically refuse to allow applications originating from countries that don’t accept Israeli trademark or patent applications, but that the Israel Patent Office decided not to adopt this policy.

Retired US patent attorney Bruce Lilling noted that Taiwan, an important industrial nation was kicked out of the PCT mechanism at China’s request.

Recommendation

For those who missed the Beer Sheva event yesterday, I recommend trying to attend the largely parallel but slightly shorter program in Haifa tomorrow. See here.

Gratuitous Political Rambling Digression (its my blog so I can do what I like)

I note that Ms Debbie Roenning (who also wore a trouser suit, but not a tie) is the head of the Brands and Designs Section which shares the unfortunate acronym of BDS, the ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ Movement, the allegedly pro Palestinian, but actually notoriously hypocritical and anti-Semitic international movement.

On the way to the conference, I noted Sodastream’s new factory in Beer Sheva. They moved from the Industrial Area by Maale Adumim (a satellite town of Jerusalem on the road towards Jericho) in response to vicious propaganda abroad. In the Maale Adumim factory, Sodastream provided jobs to West Bank Arabs and was a model of co-existence. Forced to relocate, the primary sufferers are the West Bank Arabs.
WIPO is one of the least anti-Israel organs of the UN. I think it might have been very worthwhile for them to have invited Jordanian, Palestinian and Egyptian IP professionals, both government and private, to the event. I am on good terms with professional colleagues in all these jurisdictions, and with others in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, who read this blog, and chat amicably with me at INTA, AIPPI and other international conferences. Peace is made by trade.

Of course, Israel is not the only country to have been boycotted. To advance U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives, the U.S. maintains laws and regulations that impose economic sanctions against certain countries, individuals, and entities (the “U.S. Sanctions Program”).  31 C.F.R. § 501 et seq.  The Office of Foreign Asset Control (“OFAC”) at the Department of the Treasury manages the U.S. Sanctions Program.  The U.S. Sanctions Program prohibits U.S. nationals and U.S. companies from doing business in embargoed or sanctioned countries and from doing business with individuals or entities subject to U.S. sanctions laws and regulations.  At various times, the US has forbidden their nationals to register trademarks in Cuba and has also failed to uphold Cuban trademarks. Whether or not human rights are more mistreated by Castro’s regime in Cuba or by the US in the Guantanamo Bay prison camp is not clear.


Drop in Patent Filings into Israel

February 5, 2014

stats

The Israel Patent Office has just published official figures for 2013.

Some 6185 patent applications were filed in 2013, of which 5,294 were Paris Convention or PCT National Phase Filings, and the remaining 891 were first filings. I’ve compared these figures to those in the 2012 Israel Patent Office Report and it would appear that these are the lowest figures for a decade.

The obvious things that have changed are that the Israel Patent Office put its fees up 40% past year and the Shekel is very strong against foreign currencies.

It seems though, that Israeli inventors are also thin on the ground or first filing elsewhere. Since the America Invents Act I think US provisional applications are less attractive. It could be, however, that with more Israel patent firms filing direct into the US and the low dollar, coupled with the draconian raise in Israel Patent Office filing, extension and issue fees, that the these are being scared off as well.

The Israel Patent Office has to find salaries for the 100 examiners it employs as a prerequisite to obtaining International Search Authority Status. We further note that the number of new practitioners is increasing, so it seems that there is less patent work to go around.

It could be that there is significant drafting going on for Israeli clients. However, they are not filing in Israel. Apparently the number of PCT applications filed with the Israel Patent Office in 2012 was 1199 which is an 11.4% increase compared to the 1062 filed last year. There were also at least 192 further PCT applications filed in Geneva that requested that the Israel Patent Office conducts the International Search.

Of course the Israel Patent Office has put a positive spin on things. The report notes a drop in patent pendency times. Well, with less work coming in and more hands to do it, what does one expect? 

1360 design applications were filed in 2013, which is a 12% drop from 1546 last year, and is similar to the 1362 applications filed in 2002 and 1369 applications filed in 2003, but lower than any year in the past decade which peaked at 1775 in 2008.

It is not all doom and gloom though. There was a 10% increase in trademark filings into Israel, with 8733 marks filed in 2012 and 9578 filed in 2013.


Israel and Korea launch a Pilot Patent Prosecution Highway

December 30, 2013

israel korea relations

The Israeli and Korean Patent Offices have launched a Pilot Patent Prosecution Highway (P-PPH) under which the result of an examination in one of the jurisdictions if it is the office of first filing, may be used to fast track the application in the other.

There are two variations, the regular one is the PCT-PPH under which one office serving as an International Search Authority ISA and/or International Preliminary Examination Authority IPEA, and issuing an International Prelinary Examination Report IPER that is at least partially favorable, by having at least one allowable claim, may be used to fast track examination in the other jurisdiction.

The other variation is called the A PPH – MOTTANAI – where the A may be an indefinite object without antecedent. I have no idea what the MOTTANAI bit stands for.

Under the PPH – MOTTANAI, an application whose claims have been determined patentable in the Office of Earlier Examination (OEE) is eligible to go through an accelerated examination in the Office of Later Examination (OLE), upon an applicant’s request.

COMMENT

I am not sure if all these acronyms are helpful, but imagine that the fast tracking itself may be useful. At least in the electronic materials field, I’ve found the Korean Patent Office very efficient.

I see these international agreements are generally good for Israel politically. Israel and (South) Korea have a lot in common. Whether or not the PPHs (don’t try to pronounce that) will result in more filings in the two countries, it is too early to say. 

The PPHs  are provisional. If there are too many cases fast tracked under the system, the patent offices reserve the right to reconsider. This makes sense. It is a little like queuing with everyone else in the under 10 items, pensioners and handicapped line to the express check-out in the supermarket. One knows how to get into the fast line, but whether or not it is sensible to do so, is another issue entirely.


Neil Wilcof Wins Prestigious INTA Award

December 15, 2013

Neil Wilkof trademark reporter

Veteran Israel Trademark Attorney, Neil Wilkof, is a co-winner of the International Trademark Association (INTA)’s 2013 Advancing Trademark Law Award in recognition of his sterling work on the editiorial committee of INTA’s peer reviewed LAW journal Trademark Reporter.

Neil is active lecuring to the Israel chapter of Licensing Executive Society L.E.S.


Israel to Provide International Search Reports for PCT Applications

April 4, 2012

From June 1, 2012, the Israel Patent Authority will provide International Search Reports (ISR) and International Preliminary Examination Reports (IPER) of PCT applications.

Initially, the service will be available to Israeli applicants and will be charged at a lower rate than the rates charged by the search and preliminary examination of PCT applications by the United States Patent Office (USPTO) and the European Patent Office (EPO) – both of which may currently be selected by Israeli applicants.

In this regard, the Israel Patent Authority joins an elite group of 14 patent offices (the USPTO, EPO, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Canada, Finland, Sweden, Brazil, Austria, the Nordic nations (Norway, Denmark and Iceland) and Spain.

Israel is an intensive user of the PCT system, currently filing about 1000 PCT applications a year.  In 2011, Israel ranked 15th worldwide in terms of absolute numbers of PCT applications filed. When the figures are normalized by population, Israel is a clear leader.

This development follows an intense training period of the examiners, and the Israel Patent Agency providing ISR style searches and IPER style examinations of applications first examined in Israel. It also follows the recruitment of Examiners, since to be considered, a patent office has to have at least 100 examiners.  Unfortunately, the option of collaborating with the patent offices of neighboring countries, as the Nordic nations did, is not currently a realistic prospect for Israel.

Israel was accepted as a candidate International Search Authority by WIPO in 2009. Egypt was accepted at the same time. However, as with the Indian Patent Office which was accepted in 2007, to date, has not organized itself appropriately. It is not clear when the Egyptian Patent Office will be ready to provide searches.

Under binational agreements and patent super-highways, it is expected that the Israel Patent Office will provide services as a sub-contractor to other patent offices in due course.

COMMENT

I congratulate Commissioner Asa Kling, the Executive Director of the Department of Justice, Dr Guy Rotkopf, and all the Examiners and support staff at the Israel Patent Office and Ms Li Maor at WIPO, for making this happen.  The previous Israel Commissioner of Patents & Trademarks, Dr Meir Noam, also deserves a special mention as this is the culmination of his hard groundwork and vision.

Between them, Israeli examiners are fluent in a wide range of languages, including Hebrew, English, Arabic, Russian and the main European langauges. There is, therefore,  every likelihood that the ISRs and IPERs they will produce will be performed to a high standard.    

One of my pet gripes about Israel patent examinations is that Israel patent examiners typically only examine the independent claims. I hope that, since they will be searching and examining the first claimed invention in PCT applications, they will start examining the dependent claims as well, as this will speed up Examination.


Israel Patent Law Ammended

December 14, 2011

On 8th December 2011, the Israel Knesset passed an amendment to the Israel Patent Law 1967.

There appear to be two changes, the first cosmetic and the second substantive.

Firstly, all references to the Israel Patent Office “משרד הפטנטים” or uses of the word “לישכה” meaning ‘office’ are amended to “רשות הפטנטים”  and “רשות” , i.e. Patent Agency and Agency.

More substantively, there is an amendment to reflect that the Israel Patent Office, whoops, Agency will henceforth provide PCT style International Search Report compliant search reports (ISRs) and will also be able to provide International Search Reports for applications received by the Israel Receiving Office of the PCT, where one or more inventor or applicant is an Israeli Citizen or corporation, and also for citizens or corporations of other countries having a relationship and appearing in an appropriate appendix to the Law, to be updated from time to time.

COMMENT

The Israel Patent Office (it’s OK, I can still use the old name until 8 January 2012 when the amendment comes into force) has been styling itself Israel Patent Agency for a while now, but this is now enshrined in the Law. There don’t seem to be punishments for people who forget, but I will do my best to comply.

Regarding the Searches, there are a few questions that require clarifying and no doubt the Commissioner of Patents will issue a Circular in due course:

  1. Can Israel applicants still elect the USPTO or EPO to search their applications as they can at present?
  2. What happens if applications are filed at the International Receiving Office in Geneva? – at present, this does not affect the authorized International Search Authorities, but maybe this will change.
  3. How much will an Israel PCT search cost?
  4. When will this come into effect – not the amendment to the Law, but that Israel will provide ISRs?
  5. Now that the Israel Patent Agency  is to provide ISR type searches, does that mean that at last they will start searching and examining all claims, at least for the first invention as defined by PCT Law and Regulations, and not just the independent claims as they generally do at present.

Time, and Patent Office Circulars, will no doubt tell.


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