A Cut Throat Dispute

February 8, 2016

sweeney todd

Razer (Asia Pacific) PTE LTD filed Israel Trademark Application Number 242735 as shown below:

RAZER

The mark as currently registered relates to Computers; laptop computers; notebook computers; handheld computers; personal digital assistants; computer and video game apparatus adapted for use with television receivers or other external display screens or monitors; computer displays; computer monitors; computer hardware; computer sound cards; computer peripherals; computer and video game controllers; computer mice; computer keyboards; computer keypads; computer graphics tablets; computer pens; computer joysticks; computer trackballs; flight yokes for computer and video games; steering wheels for computer and video games; accelerator pedals and brake pedals for computer and video games; guns for computer and video games; motion sensors for computer and video games; audio equipment and apparatus; earphones; headphones; microphones; headsets; loudspeakers; apparatus for cable management for the aforementioned goods; computer and video games; computer mice mats; bags, pouches, cases and covers adapted for holding and storing the aforementioned goods; for gaming use and/or gamers and excluding, phablets and television in class 9; to Bags; messenger bags; travel bags; backpacks; knapsacks; for gaming use and/or gamers in class 18, to Clothing; polo shirts; T-shirts; hoodies; headgear; caps; sweatbands; for gaming use and/or gamers in class 25 and to Video game apparatus other than those adapted for use with television receivers; handheld video game apparatus other than those adapted for use with television receivers; parts and spare parts of the aforementioned goods as far as included in this class; bags, pouches, cases and covers adapted for holding and storing the aforementioned goods in class 28.

Not long afterwards, Razor USA LLC filed Israel Trademark Application Number 242450 for RZER covering Computers, tablet computers, and related accessories, namely, computer docking stations, mounts, stands holders and cradles for holding and charging computers, carrying cases for computers, protective covers for computers, protective or decorative skins, screen protectors, namely, fitted or plastic films known as skins for covering and protecting computers, input and navigation devices, namely, keyboards, mouse, track balls, and stylus for use with computers, computer memory, namely hard drives, portable and removable memory for use with computers, networking equipment, namely modems, routers and gateways for use with computers, batteries, power adaptors, computer cables, cable connectors, remote controls, headsets, speakers, sound systems for use with computers, and microphones and web cameras for use with computers and computer software; telephones; corded and cordless telephones for wireline service (PTT (post, telegraph and telephone) POTS or PSTN service); mobile phones, smartphones, and accessories therefore, namely battery chargers and power adaptors; all included in class 9.

Since both marks are similar and each cover computer related goods in class 9, following the parties failing to reach any agreement, a competing marks procedure was initiated.  On 26 January 2015 the parties were cross-examined and a date was fixed for submission of summaries from the two parties.

After several joint requests for extensions, the parties jointly asked to be relieved of having to file summaries and announced having reached an agreement in the various jurisdictions where similar competing marks procedures were taking place, however there was still a disagreement regarding implementing the decision in Israel and further extensions were requested.

On 12 October 2015 Razer Asia Pacific PTE LTD informed the Israel Patent and Trademark Office that a coexistence agreement had been reached and requested amendments to Application number 242735 to bring an end to the competing marks procedure.

Israel Application Number 242735 is a national phase of an International Application and the list of goods is in English only.  The requested amendments included limiting class 9 goods to “for gaming use or gamers”. In class 18, sport bags would be deleted and the remaining goods would also be limited to “for gaming use or gamers”. In class 25, the term sweaters would be deleted and the remaining goods would also be limited to”for gaming use or gamers”, and in class 28, reference to “games and playthings; electronic games and playthings other than those adapted for use with television receivers” would be deleted.

RULING
Section 22a(a)(2) of the regulations (1940) allow the Commissioner to authorize amendments to the lists of goods so long as they are by nature of clarifications or narrow the scope of goods, and so long that they are in no way widening.

There is a prima facie case that the amendments are all narrowing the scope of the mark. The Competitor, Razor LLC USA accepts the changes, apart from that to Class 9 where Razor LLLC USA wants the following amendment: “for gaming use and/or gamers and excluding, phablets and television“, and argues that this further differentiates between the goods that the two companies sell under the marks and minimizes still further, the likelihood of confusion. Consequently, both marks would then be acceptable for registration under Section 30 and this amendment better reflects that agreed between the parties.

Razer accepts the Israel Patent Office’s authority to decide on the appropriate limitation but disagrees that the narrower interpretation was agreed.

Neither party provided the Commissioner with a copy of the agreement. Razer even argued that it was secret as were the negotiations leading up to the agreement. Since he did not have access to it, the Commissioner could not interpret the agreement. Consequently this ruling is limited to the Commissioner’s authority to allow coexistence and parallel use.

Section 30 authorizes the Commissioner to allow parallel registration in cases where they were applied for in good faith and where the Commissioner sees fit.

Since the parties agree with coexistence in 4 classes, and only disagree about a selection of the goods in class 9, there is no evidence of inequitable behaviour or a will to deceive.

Although, Section 30 does not include the term to mislead, the case-law, such as Appeal 8778/04 Yotvata vs. Tenuva, 30 April 2007 page 30 makes clear that only amendments that are not likely to mislead the public regarding the source of goods may be registered.

The two marks in question are word marks for Razer and Rzer and whilst not identical, do look and sound similar. Coexistence has been deemed allowable in cases where there is a difference in the protected goods or in the customers for a product. For example, in  a 2001 decision concerning TM 206317, TM 207981 and 108389, Naaleh Itzik and Nimrod Manufacturing LTD 1979 could both register the brand Sahara since the Commissioner was persuaded that there was no likelihood of confusion between shoe and sandals. Where marks are similar but not identical, such as in the TM No. 174521 “Cosabella”, 178831 “Cocabella” case, it is even easier for the Commissioner to allow two marks to coexist in the same class.

In this instance, the Commissioner has enough evidence regarding the goods and usage of the mark to decide whether or not to allow coexistence and the appropriate descriptions of the goods, and such a ruling is final as per Section 10c of the Ordinance.

Razer (Asia Pacific) PTE LTD does not see it necessary to explicitly exclude phablets and television which anyway weren’t listed in the goods description for Trademark application no. 242735 Class 9.

The full list of goods available under Section 9 includes computer and video game apparatus adapted for use with television receivers or other external display screens or monitors; …. computer graphics tablets;….

The term phablet is some sort of mobile phone / tablet device. The Commissioner gave the parties the opportunity to explain why the additional disclaimer was or wasn’t required.   Razer (Asia Pacific) PTE LTD relied on the fact that TVs and computer graphic tablets weren’t listed. However, in the Afidavit of Mr Kornbrot that was submitted by them, the term tablet did appear and by considered as included in the term “other external display screens or monitors”. Furthermore, in the corresponding Argentinian, Canadian and Indian registrations, the terms Handheld computers, Personal Digital Assistants and Television sets were included.  Consequently, in this instance, the commissioner did not consider these goods as implicitly disclaimed, but would allow both marks to be registered if the mututally agreed disclaimers  and the disclaimer in  class 9 specifying “for gaming use and/or gamers and excluding, phablets and television “.

Ruling by Asa Kling Concerning IL TM 242735 “Razer” and IL TM 242450 “Razr”, allowing coexistence with appropriate restriction of goods covered. 11 January 2016.

COMMENT

The marks are very similar. The companies reaching a coexistence agreement is not necessary sufficient for the Patent Office to conclude that there is no likelihood of confusion.  However, it is not clear to me what the companies actually sell. I therefore cannot comment on whether it is likely that customers might be confused into thinking that products of one company originated with the other.

 

 

 


Subsidizing Israeli Colleges of Further Education to File Patents in Israel

January 11, 2016

college discounts college discount 2

In a new regulation that came into effect at the beginning of the year, colleges of higher education that are recognized by the Committee that recognizes Israeli institutions granting degrees are entitled to a discounted filing fee.

Whereas regular Israeli applicants and foreign applicants, including universities and colleges have to pay 2017 Shekels, the Israeli colleges are entitled to a 40% discount.

For the past year or so, individual Israeli inventors and  companies with minimal income are entitled to such discounts, and I note that in the US there are different fees for micro-entities, small entities and large companies excluding colleges, so Israel is not alone in this. Nevertheless, I fail to see justification for favouring Israeli colleges of education.

The general justification for the patent system is that a limited monopoly is provided in return to teaching something new. College academics publish papers anyway.  That as may be, if such colleges have tech transfer companies and file patent applications in order to license them or spin off a start-up company in their incubator, why shouldn’t they be treated like any other commercial institution?

There doesn’t seem to be a need to provide incentives to colleges to file patent applications as the Israel universities are among the most prolific Israeli applicants anyway, with the tech transfer companies of the Weizmann Institute, Hebrew University and Ben Gurion University all appearing in the list of the top ten most prolific local filers for 2014, and the Technion tech transfer and Yeda (Weizmann tech transfer) appearing in the list of the top ten most prolific local patentees of 2014.

I am wondering whether a discount in filing fees per application of 807 Shekels or just over $200 provides any incentive to the tech transfers to file patent applications? Is there any national agenda that provides a logic for encouraging them to file applications in Israel? If there is some justification for a policy of encouraging Israel universities to file patents, why not ear-mark some government funding for this purpose instead of blatantly discriminating against foreign universities – not that a $200 will likely impact their patenting strategy either.

I generally advise clients to first file in Israel. There are some attorneys that advise first filing a US provisional application. Does a $200 discount affect the advice one would provide to a college or university? I am not convinced.

 


I Filed a Patent Application On-Line in Israel

January 3, 2016

Online-picture1Picture_online-2015

I have just filed my first Patent Application using the Israel Patent Office’s brand new on-line filing system. I logged on without a smart card, although I now have one.

The system is a little confusing. It offers PCT as priority application. This was a national phase entry with three EPO priorities. The PCT application is not a priority document. At least that is what I thought. When it became clear that I should have chosen PCT I had to start again.

I was invited to add priority documents. I could not find EPO. I did, however, find “OPE אירופה"  and therefore used that three times.

The client in this case is the Max Planck Institute. This is an established client of mine. It is also, I suppose, an Institute of Higher Education. However, I never applied for an Institute of Higher Education discount  in the past as this is a new discount. I could have added an affidavit at this stage, however I got the application only today (3rd January). The deadline is Thursday 7th January and the patent office staff are in Eilat on holiday at a training seminar today and tomorrow, with extremely limited customer support. There was no option for subsequent supplying of an affidavit.

I struggled on, putting in data a couple of times and uploaded the spec, claims and figs, eventually finishing the process. I was not asked to upload an abstract and had no opportunity to do so. I debated whether I should upload one in the guise of a DNA listing, or start again adding the abstract to the specification.

In the end, I didn’t submit one. After all, I wasn’t asked to.

I did, however, submit the PCT application as published as an appendix which was an option offered. This includes the abstract.

I was charged the new reduced fee of 2017 Shekels.

By my reckoning I should have paid a surcharge of 508 Shekels for excess pages. The system didn’t request this. When I am requested for it, I may be able to retroactively obtain the new academic client discount.

I have a receipt for the filing. I do NOT have an application number but it is 7:40 PM and so even if the Israel Patent Office staff weren’t partying having intensive training in Eilat, there would be no one to talk to anyway.

I will try to check up what’s happening later this week, and if necessary hand file the application on Thursday.

The system no doubt will have teething problems, but this is more ecological than printing out a 153 page document and also scanning to disk. With my smart card I should be able to file applications from a laptop from anywhere in the world which could be useful.

No doubt once the gremlins are dealt with and I get use to the system its advantages over the previous ways of filing will become apparent.

POSTSCRIPT

I  got home to find a message in my in box to the effect that the application had NOT been properly uploaded. Not the specification, nor the claims nor the figures and not even the online payment although I had a receipt that it was paid.

I went through all the hoops again and was rewarded with an email that everything was hunky-dory and even received an Application number. I have no idea what went right.

I now have to request a refund for the first filing fee payment.

No doubt once I get used to the system and its bugs get insecticized, this will be a vast improvement on the paper system which has its own problems with cover sheets getting lost, etc.


Israel Patent Office to Allow Electronic Filing

November 11, 2015

e-file

On 21 October 2015, the Israel Patent Office published amendments 1 and 2 to the patent regulations for 2015.

The amendments come into effect as of 20 December 2015.

The first amendment regulates:

  • Electronic filing of patent applications, documents and notices and the requirement for applicants to identify themselves
  • Receipt of Office Actions and other documents by email from the Israel Patent Office
  • Intermediate requests in inter-partes actions
  • How documents should be exchanged in inter-partes actions
  • How printed submissions should be made, and that the front-page is no longer required
  • How post-allowance amendments should be made
  • The request for applications to be signed has been cancelled
  • The obligation on Mentor to alert the Patent Office regarding the start of training for trainee patent attorneys and when they have to do this
  • Appeals to the Commissioner regarding non-final rejections
  • Discounts in filing fees for Schools of Higher Education and Tech Transfer Companies

Applicants wishing to file on line have to identify themselves with a smart card, and the way such smart cards may be obtained has been published.

Those wishing to receive Office Actions by email are provided with a link for so-doing.

There is a training day for patent attorneys to learn the new system. This will be held at the Israel Patent Office on 15 December 2015 between 9:30 and 12:00.


Israel Patent Office Statistics 2014

September 21, 2015

statistics 2
Under the Rules for Disseminating Public Information, the Israel Patent Office has published its annual report for 2014. The report may be found Annual Report 2014_(Hebrew). The English version is not yet available.
Paper windmill

The most interesting thing about the report is probably the graphics. Following previous years where the report was decorated with paper airplanes and paper hot air balloons, this year’s report is embellished with paper windmills. Why? The Answer, My Friends, is Blowin in the Wind.

I don’t intend extensively reproducing the graphs. Frankly they are not all that interesting. Instead, here are some observations and possible explanations.

6273 Patent Applications were filed in Israel in 2014 which is slightly up from 6184 in 2013, but still significantly lower than the 6793 applications filed in 2012. Indeed, Apart from 2013, the number of patent filings for 2014 was the lowest in a decade which peaked at 8051 applications in 2007. Applications pending examination are also down and more applications are being allowed. We attribute this to the fact that a precondition for the Israel Patent Office being an International Search and Examination Authority was for there to be a minimum of 100 examiners. This gives a favorable Examiner to application ratio that has resulted in shorter backlogs and more efficient examination.
18% of Applications are filed by local entities in 2014 which is the highest in the past decade. This statistic probably reflects the fact that many of the historic advantages of provisional applications are no longer the case and that small timers paying a reduced filing fee may find filing in Israel cost-effective compared to the US. Of course what this also means is that foreign filings made up a mere 82% of total filings in 2014, down from 88.8%. By a little mathematical manipulation, it seems that the number of foreign patent filings into Israel has dropped by about 250 or by 6.75% in the past year.

In an earlier post, I reported on a study by BdiCoface which found that 3,555 Israel based patents were filed in the US.  During this same period, only 1129 cases were filed in Israel by Israeli entities. In other words, Israelis and Israel companies are three times as likely to file in the US as in Israel. Some technologies, such as security related ones have to be first filed in Israel. Some cases, such as methods of treatment, are only patentable in the US. Nevertheless, filing Israel patents is clearly not a priority for Israel based patenting entities. It is certainly true that Israel is a small market. Nevertheless, since enforcement is considerably cheaper in Israel than in the US, I think that companies should consider filing in Israel more seriously. Particularly where there are Israeli employees and business partners.

After a slow start in 2011-2012, There has been a sharp rise in accelerated examination in Israel by suing the Patent Prosecution Highway, with 94 applications being examined via the PPH.

Interestingly, some 22 administrative decisions were made in 2014 to allow late entry into Israel from a PCT application of which 18 were favorable. Israel holds the relatively high standard of allowing late filings in circumstances that are ‘unavoidable’ rather than merely ‘unintentional’. I wonder if the 18 cases were truly missed deadlines due to acts of God, earthquakes, postal strikes and the like, or if the patent office is becoming more lenient in this regard?

Fascinating Bits of Trivia

As usual, the report includes some fascinating statistics such as Israel being the 24th most popular patent filing destination in the world, slightly more popular than the Ukraine, but less popular than New Zealand. When normalized by GNP, Israel remains the 30th most popular destination in 2013, with 480 patents per billion US dollars. This puts Israel ahead of Ireland at 449 patents per billion US dollars, but slightly behind Kazakhstan with 493 patents per billion US dollars. When normalized for population size, Israel comes in at 28th place with 149 patent applications per million residents. This is slightly less than Latvia (151) and Belarus (167) but ahead of Iran (146 patents per million).

There is a rallying in the number of PCT applications filed by Israelis, both in Israel and elsewhere which may indicate that we are pulling out of the effects of the World Wide Recession.

Some 59.4% of PCT applications filed in Israel specify Israel as the International Search Authority, up from 55% in 2013 and probably indicating customer / attorney satisfaction with the International Search Reports issued. In 2014, Israel conducted 9 ISRs for PCT cases outsourced by the USPTO. This was a mere pilot and may become a popular service.

A very significant percentage of patent applications filed in Israel are for pharma technologies. This presumably reflects the strong Israel pharma industry including Teva, Neurim, and generic companies such as Unipharm and Perrigo (technically an Irish company, but largely ran from Israel) rather than Israel’s attractiveness as a market.

Designs

The number of design applications filed in Israel last year was 1384 which is slightly higher than 2013 when 1353 design applications were filed, but still lower than for every year from 2004 through 2012. This follows the trend seen with patent applications filed in Israel. Bck in 2008, 1775 design applications were filed, so there is certainly potential for more of this type of work.

We anticipate that plans for Israel joining the international system for filing design applications will probably increase the number of designs filed into Israel, but reduce the billable work for patent attorneys. This is what happened with trademarks, where there has been an overall increase in trademark applications but this is mostly due to the Madrid Protocol applications designating Israel, and there has been a drop in trademark filings filed directly into Israel and thus a similar drop in billable work for patent and trademark attorneys.

COMMENTS

With less work coming in, and an increase in both legitimate competition and illegitimate, i.e. licensed practitioners including patent attorneys and attorneys-at-law, encroachment from non-licensed practitioners, including jumped up paralegals, retired examiners, failed patent attorneys, retired US practioners and US companies that operate directly in Israel such as Finnegan et al. and others, there is apparently more people after less work, and things are unlikely to get better quickly.

It is easy to blame the depressing statistics on international trends and to see this as the fall out of the World Wide Depression. Indeed, filings peaked in 2007, and the Lehmann Brothers went bankrupt and things started spiraling out of control in 2008. Nevertheless, it is not impossible that the IPO can do to reverse the trend, or to speed up the recovery. I would suggest that the very fast and significant increases in various Israel Patent Office fees coupled with the relatively strong Shekel may be turning away potential filers. The USPTO and EPO essentially set fees to cover operating costs. The Israel Patent Office is a cash cow that generates income for the Israel Government and which has an income that is apparently twice its operating costs. I would suggest that many fees could be reduced to pre-Greed levels and salaries for Examiners and other IPO staff could also be increased to levels more commensurate with what attorneys in private practice earn. This can only increase the quality of the Israeli examination. With greater motivation, examination periods might become even shorter and standards might increase. This together with reduced filing and other fees could make Israel a more attractive component of potential IP portfolios.


Religious Perspectives on Intellectual Property

September 10, 2015

The bishop's gambit

My talk was part of the opening plenum titled Religious Perspectives on Intellectual Property. The chairperson and other speakers were a Bishop, an Archbishop and a Cardinal. We all wore similar charcoal suits, but whereas I wore a white shirt and regular tie, rather like the sort of thing I’d have worn to Synagogue in the UK, the others wore black shirts and dog collars. I felt a little like a bagel at Mass, although everyone was very friendly.

The plenum was chaired by the Rt Rev John Sherrington, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, Department of Christian Responsibility, The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales’. Right Reverend Sherrington is a delightful chap that I could imagine spending a happy evening with in a pub. He wore the largest Crucifix I’ve seen around someone’s neck outside a vampire movie. Apparently, the cross is worn opposite the heart and a ring, symbolizing marriage to the church, is worn on the finger. I reflected that Judaism has bondage style black strapped phylacteries (Tefillin) that hold the paragraphs of the first and second paragraphs of the Shema (dealing with Unity of God and reward and punishment in the Promised Land) and other texts in a box worn on the triceps opposite the hand, and the strap is wrapped seven times round the forearm and then thrice around the finger, symbolizing past, present and future as a sort of eternity ring, whilst reciting Hosea 2: 21 “And I will betroth thee unto Me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in justice, and in lovingkindness, and in compassion.” Although the symbol is different, the symbolism is the same.

His Eminence Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Apostolic Nuncio: Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN Office in Geneva & WTO spoke on “The contribution of the Holy See to the Intellectual Property debate at the multilateral level”. This was followed by a talk titled “IP Rights and the Fundamental Right to the Commons in the Light of Catholic Social Teaching” by Monsigneur Osvaldo Neves de Almeida, Holy See Secretariat of State, with responsibility for TRIPs (WTO), UNCTAD and formerly for WIPO.

Archbishop Tomasi spoke very well, but didn’t say anything substantive. There was nothing notably Catholic about it. No scriptural references. There was a lot of pontification about respecting patents and copyright as private property whilst finding a balance with the common good and the importance of feeding the poor. The overall effect was somewhat similar to what might happen if an eminent Rabbi were to be asked to address a mixed faith academic conference. As I pointed out in the subsequent discussion, IP Law attempts to do just that but providing geographical and time limited monopolies and fair use clauses. It seemed to me that either the Catholic Church’s representation at WIPO has no effect, or, the various international treaties governing IP resulted from Catholic teaching.

Monsigneur Osvaldo Neves de Almeida’s talk was more interesting. He gave the impression of having more specific knowledge regarding both ethical issues relating to IP, and the church’ position. However, his English, though far superior to my Latin, was nevertheless not great. I think there is a problem that Catholic Bishops are conformists. One cannot expect two bishops to assume different positions, or a third bishop chairing the event, to ask a challenging question. Also, like most Rabbis, it seems that bishops don’t feel the need to use slides. Unlike many Rabbis, they also don’t seem to use parables or jokes to try to engage the audience.

I was afraid that the audience were quietly phasing out, and when I took the podium I decided to wake them. I asked for a quick show of hands to determine which members of the audience were theologians, which were academics and which were patent practitioners.

Vicars and Tarts  see also BBC REV! Series 1 Episode 6.

I then stated that if, instead of a serious, erudite and formal conference, this was a ‘Vicars and Tarts party’ and, after, about two minutes, when the laughter had died down enough to finish the sentence, I noted that I’d have come along as a tart, since I, like other patent attorneys, was an Intellectual Prostitute in that I used my skills to provide services to anyone willing to pay and that I don’t have any professional morals, or at least very few.
I spoke on “Patents, Life and Social Justice: Musings of a Mosaic Maven”. I started with noting that the classic sources such as the Bible, the Talmud and Responsa literature have a lot to say about life and about social justice. However, since patents have only been around since towards the end of the 18th century, there was nothing about patents, and thus nothing about life, patents and social justice. However, I discussed a fascinating anecdote brought in the Babylonian Talmud (Avoda Zara 28a) that relates to life, trade secrets and social justice:
We have a Tradition:
Rabbi Yohanan* suffered from scurvy#. He went to a Roman matron on Thursday and
again on Friday, and received some medicine for his gums. He asked her what he should do the
following day [Shabbat], and she told him that he was cured. He asked for details of the treatment and swore to the God of Israel that he would keep her secret. She told him the treatment. The following day at the beginning of his Sermon, Rabbi Yohanan announced the treatment.

Question – but he’d promised her. Answer, he’d already told her that it wasn’t a real
promise.
Question, but he’d swore on the God of Israel. Answer, not exactly. He’d swore to
the God of Israel, i.e. not to reveal to God [who knows all things anyway, but hadn’t
sworn not to tell people.
Question, but it is a Hillul Hashem – a desecration of the Divine Name. [this is the typical term applied to Jews behaving badly in front of non-Jews]. Answer, he told her that he’d break his promise.
Said R. Nahman b. Isaac: Scurvy is different, because although starting in the mouth it extends to the intestines.

Babylonian Talmud Avoda Zara 28a
*180 – 280 C.E. Tzipori (Galilee, Israel – the cure evidently worked as Rabbi Yoachanan lived 100 years!
# Tsadfina – Greek Sӗpedόn (putrid abscess), related to sӗptikόs (Latin, Septicus → septic

Rabbi Nahman b. Isaac’s explanation is that since scurvy is a fatal disease, the common good reflecting the right to know, outweighed confidentiality and the personal property rights of the Roman matron.

I then discussed the political, historical and theological ramifications of the Weizmann patent, a fairly insignificant 135 line document that described using bacteria to make acetone and butanol. Acetone helped the British synthesize explosives and was very significant in the British War Effort in World War I and butanol enabled the US to make butadiene for artificial rubber in the World War II. Amongst other ramifications, Weizmann’s influence, resulting from the patent, was instrumental in securing the Balfour Declaration and US recognition of the State of Israel, an event that I suggested had theological ramifications for Christians. Having run out of time, I skipped to recent cases and concluded that most controversial issues concerning life science patents, such as BRAC gene patenting, patent term extensions for medicines and the like, were really issues concerning whether or not one believed in capitalism. The main exception is stem cell research which is not patentable subject matter in Europe following Catholic pressure, since Catholics see life as starting with conception. Judaism sees life as starting at 40 days, when membranes form, which, a bio-ethicist explained to me actually comes from Aristotle. That as may be, in Israel, there is no opposition to stem cell research from Rabbis or from religious parties. One hopes that if any treatments result, that Catholics and other Christian groups with similar beliefs will be prepared to use the treatments and won’t see them as being the fruit from the poisoned tree. The full 11,000 word paper will be published shortly.

Over coffee (accompanied by Walkers biscuits with have a (U)D Kosher Certification) a Catholic professor quoted Milton Friedman to the effect that companies’ only purpose is to make money, and disagreed with bishops seeing companies as having a responsibility towards the third world. I am aware that there are dissenters to Friedman’s position, but don’t think that companies have moral or religious duties, only people do.

It occurred to me that none of the senior Catholic clergymen could have made the Vicars and Tarts joke. Furthermore, due to Papal infallibility, the Auxiliary Bishop chairing the plenum could not challenge the Archbishop or the Cardinal.
Afterwards, I had some other realizations that were more disturbing. It seems that due to a combination of factors such as recent pedophilia scandals, the secular mainstream and the fact that Catholicism is a minority faith in the UK, even bishops are unable to preach. All three steered clear of concepts such as God, faith or religious duty.

To put it another way, the previous evening I’d seen the ABBA juke-box musical Mama Mia in the West End. The story line is about 20-year-old Sophie who is preparing to marry her fiancé. She wants her father to walk her down the aisle but does not know who he is since her Mother Donna had had intimate relations with three men. As a pregnant single woman, she’d been thrown out of the house. Sophie wanted to get married so that her children would know who their father was. One of the candidates was homosexual. One had stayed faithfully married to a women he didn’t love. Donna’s girlfriend was twice divorced. In other words, the musical had more to say about personal life choices than either of the bishops’ lectures.

Disturbingly, Monsigneur Osvaldo Neves de Almeida mentioned the three transcendental religions, Catholicism, Islam and Judaism. I realized that as a Jew, I was acceptable to be on a panel with them, however, the Presbyterians, Anglicans, Evangelicals and others in the audience were not. I had had similar issues at the event I arranged in 2011. I was blocked from having non-Orthodox professors presenting.


Ketchup Wars

August 20, 2015

Heinz has removed the Hebrew transliteration of Ketchup from bottles of their iconic sauce. The reason? Israel has a standard for Ketchup that Heinz doesn’t come up to. Specifically, Israeli Ketchup contains a higher percentage of tomato extracts than Heinz’ tomato flavored condiment.

I read about this development in Yesterday’s Idiot Acharonot (Israel’s largest circulation fish & chips wrapper newspaper) whilst enjoying a leisurely breakfast on holiday in the Galilee.  The topic is a hot sweet & sour issue among fellow Anglo-American Immigrants who I am in contact with on Facebook.

To those of us who grew up in the UK or the US, Ketchup meant Heinz. Heinz launched its first Tomato Ketchup in 1876, Heinz was at the forefront of exploring natural preservation, and in 1906 was first to launch a Ketchup free from artificial preservatives. To prevent it growing a beard without fungicides, it includes enormous amounts of sugar and vinegar.

 

14-global-ketchup.w529.h352.2x

There never were 57 varieties of ketchup or indeed of anything else. Nevertheless, worldwide, Heinz is the #1 ketchup.

In the 17th century, the Chinese mixed a concoction of pickled fish and spices and called it (in the Amoy dialect) kôe-chiap or kê-chiap (鮭汁. By the early 18th century, the table sauce had made it to what is now Malaysia and Singapore, where it was discovered by English explorers. The Indonesian-Malay word for the sauce was kecap (pronounced “kay-chap”). That word evolved into the English word “ketchup”, and English settlers took ketchup with them to the American colonies.

In the United Kingdom, preparations of ketchup were historically and originally prepared with mushroom as a primary ingredient, rather than tomato. Ketchup recipes begin to appear in British and then American cookbooks in the 18th century. 

So the term Ketchup doesn’t imply containing tomatoes at all. It really simply means a savoury sauce. Nevertheless, to most of the world, the term relates to the thick dark red sauce that Heinz manufactures and distributes.

In Israel, a variety of condiments are sold as tomato ketchup. The most widely distributed and probably the best of them is Osem’s ketchup, which also comes in a distinctive container that is perhaps as well recognized in Israel as Heinz’ is elsewhere. I prefer Heinz’ Ketchup as it the taste I grew up on. My Israeli kids prefer Osem’s.

To put the argument into some kind of perspective, I’d like to use the analogy of mustard. I am sure that for British ex-patriots like me, mustard is a very strong condiment prepared from a powder. Coleman’s mustard has a long and distinguished history.

Jeremiah Colman founded Colman’s of Norwich in 1814. To create a tangy flavour, he blended brown mustard (Brassica juncea) with white mustard (Sinapis alba). From 1855 the firm introduced its distinctive yellow packaging and bull’s head logo, and in 1866 was granted Royal Warrant as manufacturers of mustard to Queen Victoria. The royal household still uses Colman’s today.

colmans mustard

Now the French make an entirely different condiment called Dijon mustard, that is rather milder. Americans have a sort of yellow ketchup that they call mustard, but which has no similarity to English mustard. One could envisage the UK banning American mustard from being sold as ‘mustard’ without a qualifier, such as ‘American style’ mustard. Similarly, one could imagine Americans requiring Colman’s Mustard to be sold with a government health warning that it should be consumed in small quantities only, and that it is rather different than what Americans are used to.

Israeli bottles of Heinz Ketchup will still have the word Ketchup on their labels in English, just not in Hebrew. Presumably English and American immigrants will see that the sauce is what they are looking for, and Israelis will appreciate that the condiment is something different. It is not a bad compromise. However, as the term ketchup doesn’t actually imply tomatoes and the average consumer is aware that condiments from different companies taste slightly different, and since both Heinz and Osem’s ketchup bottles feature the name of the manufacturer clearly and each comes in a distinctive bottle, I am not convinced that this is really necessary.

namesred mug

There are, of course, Israeli precedents for this type of thing. Nestle’s Nescafe Original was marketed in Israel as Red Mug. They couldn’t call it Nescafe as the term was generic. The Hebrew word Nes means miracle, and, where Elite’s Cafe Namess (soluble coffee) was known as Nescafe (miracle coffee), there was no way for Nestle to obtain a trademark for Nescafe.

Pips Cola

Prior to the Oslo accords, Pepsi Cola was not available in Israel, as Pepsi decided to kowtow to the Arab boycott. A Galilean Arab sold a locally produced cola as Pips Cola. When Pepsi entered the Israel market they tried to get an injunction against the Arab manufacturer. The Israel courts correctly noted that they had abandoned the local market. They ended up having to buy him out.

For British readers of my generation, I refer to classic Goodies Episode “The Bunfight at the OK Tearooms“, where ketchup as a metaphor for movie blood and gore was taken to its logical conclusion.

 


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