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.


LLM in Patent Law at Haifa finally on its way

December 11, 2014

haifa university law school

Back in June 2009, I reported on the ceremonial launch of Haifa University’s Masters in Law program in Patent Law – see here.

Recently fired Minister of Justice, Tzippy Livni, authorized the Commissioner of Patents to rule on whether such programs would provide a dispensation from patent office exams for would-be patent attorneys. In September of this year, I reported about the standards for obtaining dispensation from the theory exam for patent attorneys. See here and here. Essentially, so long as the degree covers all subject matter, such as trademarks, designs, basic foreign requirements, international treaties and procedural issues, the top 20% graduating will be entitled to a dispensation from the theory exam.

The long awaited Master’s Degree in Patent Law at Haifa University is finally on the Patent Prosecution Highway on its way. The first intake is this January. Some candidates have already signed up, but there are apparently places available.

It occurs to me, that someone interested back when the program was launched has had time to do the prerequisite science or engineering degree, and to have then done two years on the job training (hitmachut). No doubt however, there are some additional wannabe patent attorneys out there who think that this degree is the key to fame and fortune.

We wish the faculty and students every success with this endeavour!


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.


IL 177920 to Nachushtan not to be reinstated

December 10, 2014

secure cellular device

IL 177920 to Rafi and Rephael Nachushtan is titled “CELLULAR DEVICE SECURITY APPARATUS AND METHOD” issued on 4 May 2013. The first renewal was due three months later, however the patentees missed the deadline, and after a further six months, the patent went abandoned.

The application was originally filed by Appelfeld Zer Fisher Weiler, who presumably drafted the application. The prosecution was handled by Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer Baratz, and on issuance, the Applicant claims to have taken control of the case. However, the evidence submitted as a letter to the patent office was not in the patent office file. No change of address was recorded and no fee was paid. ON discovering that the patent had lapsed, apparently being informed by the Attorneys of record, the Applicants attempted to revive the patent and submitted a first affidavit through the offices of Ehrlich & Fenster. This first Affidavit was considered to leave too many gaps in the chain of events and didn’t correlate with the Israel Patent Office record. The Nachushtans were given a second opportunity and that was also considered unsatisfactory.

Ms Jacqueline Bracha refused to allow the patent to be reinstated, but has given the Applicants an opportunity to set up a hearing to appeal the decision and to answer questions.


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.


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 »


Israel Supreme Court Rules on Parallel Importing

November 19, 2014

Tommy Hilfiger

The Israel Supreme Court has issued a ruling concerning the rights and wrongs of parallel importing and related marketing and advertising. This is the first time that they have ruled on this issue.

The Supreme Court ruled that parallel importing is legitimate, as is marking the goods with the trademarks. The licensed importer or franchisee cannot prevent parallel importing, but it is important that the name of the company doing the parallel importing does not imply that the parallel importer has a relationship with the mark holder and has to actively take steps to make clear that they are not the licensed importer. The licensed importer does not have to guarantee or provide a service for the parallel imported goods and the parallel importer that the public are made aware that the parallel imported goods are not covered by the importer’s warranty and servicing obligations.

The Israel Supreme Court partially upheld the ruling of the Court of First Instance that the parallel importers had infringed the registered licensee’s trademark and were also guilty of passing off. This was due to the name of their business, not the parallel importing itself. The Supreme Court decreased both the damages award and the restrictions imposed by the Court of First Instance.

The Appellants, Elad Suissa and Importer Warehouse 42 LTD. imported clothing carrying the Tommy Hilfiger brand, despite not being the licensed importer registered in the Trademark Register and also not having any contractual relationship with the licensee. The Appellants purchased the goods abroad from legitimate suppliers in countries where the prices were lower than in Israel. They traded under the name ‘Importer’s Warehouse – Tommy Hilfiger’ and advertised themselves as selling premium bands at discounted prices. They operated a website www.tomm4less.co.il.

The licensed importer Sea & Shells LTD, together with Tommy Hilfiger Licensing LLC. Tommy Hilfiger USA INC. and Tommy Hilfiger Europe BV sued Elad Suissa and Importer Warehouse 42 LTD on  various grounds of unfair trade and trademark issues.

The Court of First Instance ruled that the parallel importers should pay 457,000 NIS in damages and issued a permanent injunction against them. The Appellants argued that they should not be restricted from parallel importing in circumstances where this is legal.

The Supreme Court partially accepted Appeal 7629/12 by the parallel importer, and rejected the appeal 8848/12 by Tommy Hilfiger.

The Ruling

The starting position is that parallel importing is legal. Parallel Importing is not trademark infringement and is not Unjust Enrichment by the Parallel Importer. However this does not mean to say that there are no restrictions on the parallel importer. The parallel importer is subject to trademark law, fair trading laws and the Law Against Unjust Enrichment.

In Pezachim, using the registered trademark in connection with legitimate goods carrying the mark was considered “True Use” under Section 47 of the Trademark Ordinance. In Toto Zahav, it was ruled that such a use of original goods is an infringement. The case-law of the District Court adopted tests from US case law: If the items cannot be identified without using the trademark it is legitimate to use the trademark. However, usage must be limited to that which is necessary to identify the goods as being genuine and no more, and there should be no indication that the retail outlet is sponsored by or affiliated to the mark holder. Toto Zahav did not relate to parallel importing and, in cases of parallel importing, the Toto Zahav ruling should be modified.

Parallel Imported genuine items do not fall under the guidelines of Toto Zahav. Their sale is not trademark infringement and the goods do not have to have been purchased directly from the rights owner. However, marketing activity relating to such goods may be considered trademark infringement. Servicing and maintenance services have to be recognized for the servicing laboratory to be able to use the registered trademark. Parallel imported goods are not subject to warranties and guarantees of the registered importer and parallel importer has to take care that it is clear that his parallel imported goods are not covered by such warrantees.

Passing Off requires a reputation of the rights holder, and, in addition to the mark owner, the legitimate importer or licensee may have rights in the brand and may be able to sue for passing off. The concept of ‘dilution’ does not apply to parallel importing and cannot be claimed by either the mark owner or the licensed importer. However, where the reputation is built on service and the like, sale of the goods by a parallel importer such that the service agreement does not apply, may be considered passing off.

In the present case, sale and publicity of the goods themselves and the website www.tomm4less.co.il are considered as being truthful. Using the company’s colours is also unlikely, in and of itself to cause confusion.

Trading under the name ‘Importer’s Warehouse – Tommy Hilfinger’ is considered trademark infringement of the rights of Tommy Hilfiger Licensing LLC. Tommy Hilfiger USA INC. and Tommy Hilfiger Europe BV.  This is not infringement of the rights of the licensed importer Sea & Shells LTD however, since they themselves do not have a reputation.

There is no additional element such as bad faith to warrant granting damages under the Law of Unjust Enrichment.

The Parallel Importer must cease to use the name ‘Importer’s Warehouse – Tommy Hilfinger’ and have to pay 100,000 Shekels as estimated damages for their infringing use and have to mention in their advertising that they are not a franchise or otherwise acting under the supervision of Tommy Hilfiger.

The costs awarded by the District Court are canceled and Tommy Hilfiger et al. have to pay 25,000 Shekels costs to the parallel importer.

7629/12 Appeal to Israel Supreme Court (ruling by Dalia Barak-Erez et al): Elad Suissa and Importer Warehouse 42 LTD vs. Sea & Shells LTD, Tommy Hilfiger Licensing LLC. Tommy Hilfiger USA INC. and Tommy Hilfiger Europe BV, 16 November 2014

 


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