Amending claims during opposition proceedings

December 11, 2014

fire retardant

The Israel Patent Law 1967 allows corrections and ammendments. Scribal errors can be corrected at any time. Claims can be amended during prosecution, provided there is support for the amendments in the specfication. Under Sectons 65 and 66, on allowance, both during opposition proceedings and after the patent issues at patentee’s request, the scope of the claims may be amended provided the amendment is a narrowing of the claim coverage.

Albermarle Corporation filed Israel Patent Number 141905 titled “IMPROVED BROMINATED POLYSTYRENIC RESINS AND THEIR USE”. The invention relates to brominated polystyrenes as a fire retardant. The patent was filed in 1999 and was allowed and published for Opposition Purposes in 2009.

Tarkovot Bromium LTD opposed the patent, and the two companies have been battling back and forth for the past 5 years. Now Albermarle has requested to amend the claims. The proposed amendments is the addition of the underlined in the following claims:

“1. A brominated styrenic polymer that has ∆E solution value of said polymer if dissolved at the level of 10 wt% in chlorobenzene in the range of from about 3 to about 15,÷ an ionic bromine content of 2000 ppm or less, and at least two of the following additional characteristics:

  • a)
  • b)
  • c)

23. A brominated polystyrene characterized in that it has
An ionic bromine content of 1000 ppm or less;

 

  • A TGA temperature for 1% weight loss which is 340°C. or higher;
  • A chlorine content, if any, of less than about 100 ppm Cl;
  • A thermal stability in the Thermal Stability Test of 1500 ppm HBr or less;
  • An actual Mw which is within about 20% of its calculated theoretical Mw, the theoretical Mw being based upon the actual bromine content of the brominated styrenic polymer and the Mw of the styrenic polymer reactant used to produce the brominated styrenic polymer; and
  • Essentially no content of impurities selected from the group consisting of bromodichloroethane, dibromochloroethane, dibromodichloroethane, and tribromochloroethane.; and
  • ∆E solution color value of said polymer if dissolved at the level of 10 wt% in chlorobenzene in the range of from about 3 to about 15.

48. A composition which comprises a thermoplastic polymer having blended therewith at least a flame retardant amount of brominated styrenic polymer having, prior to blending, a total bromine content of about 50 wt% or more, a TGA temperature for 1% weight loss which is 340°C. or higher, and a chlorine content, if any, of less than about 700 ppm, and a ∆E solution color value of said polymer if dissolved at the level of 10 wt% in chlorobenzene in the range of from about 3 to about 15.

56. A composition which comprises a thermoplastic polymer having blended therewith at least a flame retardant amount of brominated styrenic polymer having, prior to blending, a total bromine content above about 50 wt%, and a thermal stability in the Thermal Stability Test of 200 ppm HBr or less, and a ∆E solution color value of said polymer if dissolved at the level of 10 wt% in chlorobenzene in the range of from about 3 to about 15.

 

 The parties agree that the additional phrase “∆E solution color value of said polymer if dissolved at the level of 10 wt% in chlorobenzene in the range of from about 3 to about 15″ is supported by the specfication.

 

 

Patent Office Interim Decision re Il 141905,  Torkovot Brome vs. Albermarle, Decision by Asa Kling, 12 November 2014.


European and Israel Patent Offices Sign a Bilateral PPH

December 10, 2014

pph

The European Patent Office (EPO) and the Israel Patent Office (IPO) have agreed a patent deal set to speed up examinations at both offices. Starting next month, the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) will allow applicants to request accelerated examination of a patent at either office provided the claims have been previously deemed acceptable by the other. The agreement was signed on December 4 by heads of both offices in Brussels, Belgium.

Apparently Asa Kling, director of the IPO, said the programme would “enhance co-operation between the offices” and further strengthen the economic and technological relations between Israel and Europe.

COMMENT
We see this as a great development, not least because Israel Applications may be accelerated fairly easily under a variety of routes including Section 17c of the Israel Patent Law 1967 and relevant patent office circulars. European Applications can linger in the queue for examination for quite a while, and incur annual maintenance fees. Then again, once allowed, a European patent has to be ratified and is then subject to renewal fees in the countries where it is ratified. The main thing is that this gives applicants choice and flexibility.


Orbotech Challenges Cost Ruling, but too Late

December 8, 2014

missed opportunity

Back on 9th November 2014, I reported that after finally ruling on the Camtek – Orbotech patent Opposition, the Israel Patent Office ruled very large costs to Adi Levit, mostly because he’d detailed his cost calculation and it was unchallenged by Orbotech who’d lost the case.

Camtek requested 302,895 Shekels costs (including VAT).  The request for costs were supported by an affidavit from Camtek’s IP manager Michael Lev. The sum includes legal fees of 288,687 Shekels to outside counsel, Adi Levit, 8208 Shekels to the witness Mr Golan, and 6000 Shekels for intermediate costs awarded. All cost requests were supported by documentary evidence such as invoices from outside counsel and salary slips from the witness. Orbotech, represented by Reuven Borchowski, did not counter the request for costs.

In her ruling, Ms Jacqueline Bracha reviewed the intermediate costs to see whether they were affected by the final decision and came to the conclusion that where she had ruled that the costs were incurred by Opposer unnecessarily, they should be discounted.  The costs awarded were 296,895 Shekels.

Apparently, on the day that the cost ruling issued, Orbotech requested that the ruling be canceled, arguing that because of industrial action in the courts, they were unable to respond on the last day as they had intended.

Camtek responded that they could have filed a notice of intent to challenge, the court strike was actually the day after, and a response could have been submitted despite the strike. They requested that Orbotech’s lawyer file an affidavit testifying to why he was unable to respond, and to be prepared to be cross-examined on it.

Ms Bracha decided that the ruling was given fairly and there was no reason to cancel it. The issue was not whether Reuven Borchovsky, attorney for Orbotech had intended filing a response, but whether there were counter-arguments on file when she made her ruling. As there weren’t, she was entitled to simply check the calculation submitted by Adv. Levit. Consequently, she saw no reason to cancel her decision to award the actual legal costs + witness fee – intermediate costs that were unnecessary.


The Mattress Opposition Again

December 3, 2014

wisdom of solomon

Moshe and Anat Gabai have developed a mattress that they believe is useful in minimizing the occurrence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in children. On allowance, Aminach, a large Israel mattress manufacturer opposed the patent issuing.

The Applicants who were not represented, managed to overcome the prior art objections relating to novelty and non-obviousness, but were unable to prove that their mattress was effective. Consequently, Deputy Commissioner Ms Jacqueline Bracha ruled that the patent be cancelled as contravening Section 3 due to it lacking utility.

At the time, the Applicants did not have experimental evidence, but they teamed up with a scientist and generated some evidence that their mattress had some value in minimizing cot deaths.

The Applicants appealed to the District Court, however the District Court was not willing to examine this new evidence that wasn’t before the Patent Office.

Undeterred, and this time with professional assistance, the applicants appealed to the Supreme Court which established that in such circumstances, new evidence may be submitted. The case was referred back to the District Court which ruled that the evidence could be accepted and referred the case back to the Israel Patent Office.

Ms Bracha is prepared to accept the evidence provided it is relevant.

COMMENT

I can develop a persuasive theory that the mattress design allows dissipation of carbon dioxide and helps a baby that is lying face down to breath freely. I can think of several ways of demonstrating utility and have discovered a university researcher who is able to run some useful experiments. Unfortunately, the only really convincing evidence would be to conduct experiments with a statistically significant pool of identical twin babies, one twin sleeping on regular mattresses and the other on the Applicant’s mattress. I find the idea a little obnoxious and do not see that utility requires proof.

I think the Gabai’s deserve a patent for this, and am impressed with their tenaciousness.


Voyager again

December 3, 2014

voyager 1

Plantronics opposes Accel Telecom’s request for Israel Trademark No. 251612 for the word “Voyager”.

The mark is directed to Fixed car phones and connected smart car phones; all included in class 9, and to Telecommunication services, namely, providing electronic telecommunication connections, namely, providing voice and data wireless communications connections to enable users to transmit, reproduce, receive, access, search, index and retrieve data namely, images, sounds, text, movies and animations between mobile communication devices and computer communication networks, the Internet, information services networks and data networks; Telecommunication services, namely, telecommunication access services, communication by means of mobile phones, cellular telephone communication, mobile telephone services; all included in class 38.

Plantronics also uses the trademark Voyager for telecommunications equipment, hence the opposition.

As reported earlier, here   and here,   the parties managed to come to an understanding and worked out a coexistence agreement. However, the Israel Patent and Trademark Office were not prepared to accept the coexistence agreement as they considered that the public could still be confused as to the source of goods covered by the mark.

At this stage Accel have to provide evidence, but have asked for the Opposition to be suspended pending hearing of an appeal. Their deadline for filing evidence was originally in September, but has been extended to 27 November 2014.   Now Ms Shoshani Caspi has given them a further six month extension provided the fees are paid within 5 days.


Ethics for Israel Patent Attorneys

November 23, 2014

ethical and legal

In what some may consider a welcome move, the Ministry of Justice has published a first draft version of a law that will govern the behavior of Israel Patent Attorneys.  For the draft, see here.

Perhaps the most significant thing about the draft law is that client-attorney privilege is formally recognized. Henceforth, Patent Attorneys will also be required to keep escrow accounts.

The IP Committee of the Israel Bar considers that the standards required of Patent Attorneys should be equivalent to those required of Attorneys-At-Law, and considers that the current state of affairs allows Patent Attorneys more freedom regarding marketing. They have requested that this be addressed. The attorney signed on their proposed response is Ziv Glasner who is also a patent attorney.

The Association of Patent Attorneys in Israel has submitted their comments to the Justice Ministry as an amended draft. Briefly, the Association of Patent Attorneys in Israel would like the code of ethics of patent attorneys to mirror that of the Israel Bar Law (Professional Ethics) 1988 mutatis mutandis, seeing a correlation between the two professions.  Thus the draft law as proposed by the Ministry of Justice recognizes that a patent attorney who is also an attorney-at-law will be duty-bound by both the Code of Ethics that bind patent attorneys and by the Israel Bar Law (Professional Ethics) 1988, however in case of conflict, the behaviour required of Attorneys-at-Law will prevail. In contradistinction, the Association does not see room for conflict between requirements of an Attorney-at-Law and those of a Patent Attorney as it wants the Code of Ethics for Patent Attorneys to mirror that for Attorneys at Law.

If we were talking about ethics, where the standards required of Patent Attorneys and Attorneys at law differ, one would require the attorney to have the highest standards. However, this proposed Law is not about ethics, it is about behaviour.

The proposed law legislates and formalizes much of the voluntary code adhered to by the Association of Israel Patent Attorneys that Dr Kfir Luzzatto drafted some years ago. However, the amendment proposed by the Association of Israel Patent Attorneys wishes to delete certain sections such as not denigrating competitors and not aggressively poaching clients, as these are not currently binding on Attorneys-at-Law. Instead, the Association’s propose to import a whole bunch of clauses from the Israel Bar Law (professional ethics) relating to where Attorneys can set up office and where they can meet clients and make these binding on Patent Attorneys as well.

I am concerned that these restrictions will create an entry barrier against sole practitioners and new firms, and should not be allowed on constitutional grounds based on the Basic Law, Freedom of Occupation 1992. Clearly restrictions designed to protect the public are legitimate. However, I do not think that Read the rest of this entry »


Transferring A Contested Trademark to a Limited Company

November 19, 2014

pama

Abad Elrazak Abido is the owner of a registered trademark number 244831 for Pama, for shoes. He wishes to transfer ownership to a limited company: Pama Shoe Manufacturers LTD and to a partnership called Pama Porza, and submitted a request for transfer of ownership signed by him and the company.

This is actually the second attempt to transfer ownership, where the first attempt was dismissed on procedural grounds. Following that first attempt, an appeal was filed to the District Court. This appeal is pending, but meanwhile the owner has again submitted a request to transfer the mark and the present ruling relates to this request.

Section 48a of the Trademark Ordinance 1972 allows both pending and issued marks to be transferred from one owner to another, but gives the commissioner the right to refuse to register the transfer of ownership if it appears to be likely to confuse the public as to the origin of the goods or apparently contravenes the common good.

Puma S.E. opposed the transferring, arguing that the request had procedural flaws. In addition, they claim that the request is designed to create anonymity regarding the source of the shoes. The logic presumably being that the mark is being used to sell counterfeit shoes and Puma prefer to litigate against a person than a company as it is easier to collect if they win.

The Applicant submitted a Palestinian Authority trademark decision concerning a similar opposition, where registration of the mark Pama was allowed, and also submitted a certificate of incorporation, showing that the company to which the mark is to be transferred is properly incorporated in the Palestinian Authority (West Bank). The Applicant further claimed that there was a mediated settlement between him and Puma that allowed him to sell shoes under the PAMA brand in Israel and in the West Bank. The existence of the partnership remains a little cloudy.

Ms Shoshani Caspi ruled that the parties should submit affidavits and then attend a hearing where the relationship between Abad Elrazak Abido, the company and the ‘partnership’ could be clarified by cross-examination of the parties by the parties. Until such a hearing, she felt unable to address the issue of the public good. She noted that Mr Abido rights were not being compromised, as he would have the opportunity to provide additional documentation to substantiate his case. In the meantime, the request for transfer of ownership is suspended and no costs were-ruled.

COMMENT

Those with an interest in trademarks that are inspired by and somewhat similar to the marks of leading brands will note the four striped sneaker opposed by Adidas that was appealed to and upheld by the Supreme Court. Also of note is the Tigris decision which I am somewhat critical of, as it doesn’t relate to sports goods.

I have a working relationship with a Shechem (Nablus) based trademark lawyer which may help clients registering and enforcing in both the West Bank as well as in Israel. I suspect that proceedings are very different before the two regimes.


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