Intellectual Property at the Workplace: Theoretical and Comparative Perspectives, by Dr Shlomit Yanisky-Ravid, the Book Launch

July 4, 2014

shlomit

This is a report of the  book launch of Dr Shlomit Yanisky-Ravid’s opus “Intellectual Property at the Workplace: Theoretical and Comparative Perspectives, by Dr Shlomit Yanitzky-Ravid”. קניין רוחני בעסודה: תיאוריה, מעשה ומשפט השווה – ד”ר שולמית יניצקי-רביד. I have a peer-reviewed book review waiting publication, and can only blog that once it has publishes, at least on-line, so this article focuses on the event, not the book.

THE LUNCH LAUNCH

Dr Miriam Biton once accused me of only blogging about refreshments at conferences. This is not true. I try to cover events for IP enthusiasts who forgot to attend, and do try to cover the less substantive aspects of events as well. Nevertheless, I had worked through lunch and the reception started at 4:30, so I was grateful that it included savoury sandwiches. They weren’t very exciting or tasty, but were filling, and I didn’t get home until gone 10 PM, so it was appreciated. Most were short on filling, but one with avocado wasn’t, and I had changed into a white shirt for the occasion. Ah well.

There were perhaps 30 people at the reception, and about 100 at the event. This number included students. In an email exchange with me Dr Shlomit Yanisky-Ravid claimed 80 registered participants, so perhaps we should accept this figure without quibbling.

WORDS OF WELCOME

The evening opened with words of welcome from the Dean of the Law faculty, Professor Amichai Cohen, who noted how active Dr Shlomit Yanisky-Ravid is very busy in a wide range of activities including organizing events, student trips abroad, lecturing, publishing, directing the Center for Comparative Law and other work for the ONO Academic College.

For some reason, the compere, Dr Rivi Cohen, who otherwise did a fine job, introduced the Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks, as Adv. Assa Kling. I suppose a law academic considers that being an attorney-at-law is a major achievement, but there are 50,000 of them in Israel, and only one Commissioner of Patents at a time. The job description of Commissioner of Patents is approximately on a par with being a District Court Judge. As the commissioner had recently published a ruling relating to Service Inventions that had related extensively to the book, but ruled that even the author admitted that the current state of the Law was not in accordance with her views, I was eager to hear what he had to say. Diplomatically, he spoke about the collaboration between the Patent Office and WIPO that Shlomit was involved with, and didn’t relate much to the book other than noting that it was in the Patent Office library. He also noted that there was an unprecedented 8 cases before the committee for employee compensation, so the book was timely and important.

Judge Elisheva Barak Ussoskin, the Emeritus Labour Court Deputy President, read a speech that fairly summed up the book. She then apologized for not staying, but her grandchildren had ballet, which she felt was more important. For a words of praise presentation, this was pardonable, but subsequent speakers in the first panel, made up of academics and colleagues of Shlomit from ONO, also spoke and then walked out.

THE ACADEMIC PANEL

Former Accountant General, Professor Yaron Zlikha, raised some interested points concerning non-patentable inventions by civil servants, and argued that giving a large percentage royalty to civil servants who were inventors of patents discriminated against their colleagues who may have made lucrative innovations for the government that are not patentable. He gave, as an example, an action he had initiated that had generated two billion shekels for the communal pot, arguing that giving inventors 35% royalties and not giving him even 3.5 parts per million, seemed a little unfair. Professor Shlomo Noy, Head of the Health Services Department at ONO then spoke.  He countered some of Dr Zlikha’s comments. Both senior ONO lecturers spoke and walked out. Not taking questions from the floor is one thing, but not staying for the break to take questions individually, or to hear other panelists comments, seemed to me to be bad manners. If the moderator had forced them to react to each other’s comments, a meaningful debate might have ensued.  (I felt that the moderator, who mentioned Shlomit’s important chapter on gender, was mostly qualified by virtue of being a female academic). 

Professor Orly Lovel gave a perspective based on corporate law. She had a lot to say and limited time, so gabbled somewhat. Her last point was valid, though hardly original. She noted that the labour Laws in California which allowed workers to change companies and take knowledge with them had generated Silicon Valley, whereas the Massachusetts State Law had prevented a similar phenomenon from growing up around Boston, despite the top universities there. I Accept that this is good evidence that pro-worker legislation is good for the technological progress. However,  I am not sure that it is good for companies or inventors. In other words, the question of how this redistributes wealth was not addressed.

THE PROFESSIONAL PANEL

After the break, there was a panel chaired by Advocate and Notary Calia Klein, the head of the labour law group at Pearl Cohen. Having experienced first hand of how her firm treats employees, it was interesting to discover that they have an Employment Law group, and are thus presumably aware that there are laws in this area. There  were some solid but not particularly inspiring comments by Adv. Yossi Markovitch and by Adv. David Gilat. David noted that the employer-employee relationship is part of Patent Law, not Labour Law and felt that this was appropriate.

Adv. Eran Bareket made some interesting and, for me, thought provoking comments about forum shopping regarding service inventions, noting that the book hadn’t related to this issue. He pointed out that one can file suit in the labour courts, the District Court, with the Commissioner of Patents in opposing a patent as being the true inventor or owner, or with the committee for compensation for service inventions. He gave examples of where cases had gone to each forum and considered the state of affairs problematic, as the rulings would perhaps be influenced more by the forum, than by the issues.

Mr Amir Raveh, an inventor and investor in start-ups acknowledged no legal training and feigned not to have understood the terminology used by the other panelists. He stated that whereas a few years ago,start-ups were expected to have patent applications, nowadays, this is no longer the case and the issue when selling companies is human resources. He did not seem able to explain how one can sell human resources though. Employees can move companies, and non-compete clauses are rarely enforceable. He seemed to be involved in the currently trendy smartphone App field. I wonder how one can prevent competitors from under-cutting without patents?

The evening concluded with Dr Yanisky-Ravid thanking just about everyone, receiving a bouquet of flowers from a student groupie, and lots of photos of her posing with speakers and family members who had turned up in force to show their support.


Finjan Sues Symantec

July 2, 2014

Finjan Holdings has sued Symantec claiming infringement of 5 patents. See here.

Is it a storm in a coffee pot?


Amending a patent application under opposition

June 25, 2014

muzzle flash

This ruling by the Commissioner of Patents clarifies what types of amendments to claims may be allowed during oppositions and post grant, and in which cases the patentee has to provide justification for amendment. Unfortunately, in applying the rules, the commissioner got it wrong and allowed an amendment that causes embodiments not previously within the scope of protection to henceforth be protected.

Rafael Advanced Warfare Systems LTD opposed an attempt to amend the description of patent application no. IL 188066 titled “System and Method for Identifying Shooting”, which was filed in December 2007 by Optigo LTD and Elta Systems LTD,  transferred totally to Elta in December 2011, and published for oppositions at the end of July 2012.

On 25 October 2012 Rafael filed an opposition, submitting a statement of case in February 2013. Instead of responding, in August 2013, Elta applied to amend the application. Rafael opposed this as well, filing a further statement of case, and in January 2014, Elta filed their statement of case. Under Regulation 102, the main opposition is suspended until the allowability of the amendment is determined. The parties forwent the right to a hearing and the ruling on the amendment was given based on the written submissions.

In brief, the application claims identifying shooting from the Infra Red flash from gun muzzles.

The amendments included:

  • substituting the term locating and detecting into the claims, where the original claim related to detecting only
  • the term PDA (Photo Detector Array) was replaced with an imager comprising a non cryogenically cooled PDA
  • The term sensing was replaced with imaging
  • The term Near Infra Red NIR was replaced with Short Wave Infra Red SWIR
  • In addition, claims relating to the activity of the sensor and the information collected was amended

The marked up amended claims are reproduced below:

1. 2. A method for use in detecting and locating on of a muzzle flash event, the method comprising sensing electromagnetic radiation by an imager comprising a non cryogenically cooled Photo Detector Array (PDA) sensitive in at least a portion of the NIR and SWIR spectrum, thereby imaging the sensed electromagnetic radiation, wherein said electromagnetic radiation propagating towards the PDA undergoes filtering for selectively passing towards the PDA the electromagnetic radiation of one or more spectral ranges of relatively low transmission in atmosphere –of said at least portion of the NIR and SWIR spectrum, said sensing imaging having an integration time shorter than 10-2 s.

2. 1. A method for use in detection detecting and locating of a muzzle flash event, , the method comprising sensing electromagnetic radiation by an imager comprising a non cryogenically cooled Photo Detector Array (PDA) sensitive in at least a portion of the NIR and SWIR spectrum, thereby imaging the sensed electromagnetic radiation, wherein said electromagnetic radiation propagating towards the PDA undergoes filtering for selectively passing towards the PDA the electromagnetic radiation of one or more spectral ranges of relatively low transmission in atmosphere for said at least portion of the NIR and SWIR spectrum; and wherein said sensing imaging having an integration time shorter than a duration of the muzzle flash event; the method comprising applying staged processing to pixel signals of said PDA for consecutively reestimating the occurrence of said muzzle flash event while reducing the amount of data to be processed at each stage, and wherein said staged processing comprises a stage of parallel in-pixel processing.

3. The method of any one of preceding Claims 2, wherein said parallel in-pixel processing comprising analyzing the time dependent signals from each pixel independently of other pixelssensing is at least in part performed within the NIR spectrum.

4. The method of any one of preceding Claims, wherein said imager comprises at least 10,000 pixelssensing is at least in part performed within the SWIR spectrum.

24. A device for use in detection and location of a muzzle flash event, the device comprising an imager comprising a non cryogenically cooled Photo Detector Array (PDA), sensitive in at least a portion of the NIR and SWIR spectrum, and a filter of electromagnetic radiation configured and operable for selectively passing therethrough spectral bands corresponding to relatively low transmission of the electromagnetic radiation in atmosphere for said at least a portion of the NIR and SWIR spectrum, said sensing PDA having an integration time shorter than 10-2 s.

25. A device for use in detection and location of a muzzle flash event, the device comprising an imager comprising a non cryogenically cooled Photo Detector Array (PDA), sensitive in at least a portion of the NIR and SWIR spectrum, and a filter of electromagnetic radiation configured and operable for selectively passing therethrough spectral bands corresponding to relatively low transmission of the electromagnetic radiation in atmosphere for said at least a portion of the NIR and SWIR spectrum, the PDA having an integration time shorter than a duration of the muzzle flash event; the device includes a processing system adapted for applying staged processing to pixel signals of said PDA for consecutively reestimating the occurrence of said muzzle flash event while reducing the amount of data to be processed at each stage, and wherein said staged processing comprises a stage of parallel in-pixel processing.

26. The device of Claim 2526 or 27, wherein said parallel in-pixel processing comprising analyzing the time dependent signal from each pixel independently of other pixels the PDA at least partially being sensitive within the NIR spectrum.

27. The device of any one of Claims 26 24 to 2826, the PDA at least partially being sensitive within the SWIR spectrumwherein said imager comprises at least 10,000 pixels.

Following these amendments, applicant requested replacing sensing with imaging in claims 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22 and 23, and deleting the words sensing being  in claims 43-36 with appropriate grammatical amendments.

In claims 5-11, 18-19, 28-34, 38-42 the applicant requested adding the word wherein with appropriate grammatical amendments.

Applicant requested cancelling claims 5, 19, 30 and 44.

Claims of the parties

Elta claimed that the amendments were supported by the specification and that none of the amendments widened the scope of protection and thus fulfilled both Sections 65 and 66 of the Law.

Rafael countered that the amendments widen the claim-set, change the essence of the invention and claim elements not is the original application.

Rafael argued that “detecting and locating” is wider than merely detecting in that the invention now enables working out where the flash comes from. Therefore the amendment should not be allowed. Similarly, imaging includes sensing, but provides additional functionality and enables obtaining results not previously protected. Substituting SWIR for NIR enables using a sensor that does not work in the NIR part of the spectrum. Furthermore, the proposed amendments to claims 3, 4, 26 and 27 are substantial enough to effectively amount to new claims.

Elta responded that nothing claimed extends beyond the scope of the original specification. SInce the opposer did not provide evidence supporting his allegations, they should be thrown out under Regulation 102c, and the opposer should be considered as accepting the amendments.

The opposer considers that having to detect locate is narrower than merely detecting and should be allowed.slocating is supported on page 13 lines 17-21, page 53 lines 20-22. Similarly, “an imager comprising a non-cryogenically cooled PDA” is narrower than merely a  PDA, since it has to be an imager. Support is found on Page 10 line 6, page 7 lines 20-23 and 28-29. In general, the very sensing is wider than imaging, as imaging requires sensing, but also forming a picture. In general, adding additional stages to a process is inherently narrowing. Thus any amendments that narrow the scope of protection should be allowed.

The Ruling

This ruling was issued by the Commissioner, Asa Kling.

Opposers are not required to submit evidence where the issue revolves around an internal logic. The mere failure to submit additional evidence cannot be taken as abandoning the opposition. The proposed reading of the regulations was thus rejected.

Citing Section 29 of the Latent Law, post acceptance, the allowable amendments to claims are those allowable post-grant. i.e. amendments allowable under Sections 65 and 66.Such amendments have to be supported by specification and cannot be a widening in the scope of the protection requested. In addition, Regulation 95a allows post allowance amendments only on paying the requisite fee and stating the purpose of the amendment (so that the commissioner can ascertain that the amendment is indeed a narrowing of the scope of protection).

Citing then deputy commissioner Axelrod in IL 101537 Unipharm vs Merck, 30/4/2003 Section 21b, the applicant has to provide explanations to persuade the examiner that the amendments should be allowed. This was upheld by the Supreme Court in 11194/04 Polyvid polystyrene foam vs. Eli Givati et al. Essentially, according to the Commissioner, he has no choice but to allow amendments that correct a mistake in the claims and claim that which should have been claimed originally, if doing so does not widen the protection, but the onus is on applicant to show that this is indeed the case. The question is really whether after the amendment, the claims can catch something that would otherwise not be considered infringing.

As to locating, since detecting and locating is narrower than merely detecting, it was allowed. Similarly, a choice of a specific  type of imager is narrower than any detector and was allowed.

The Commissioner considered SWIR as relating to the range 0.7 microns to 1 microns  and NIR as relating to the range 1 micron to 3 microns. Since the range is smaller, he allowed this amendment. (I believe that this amendment is wrong as I will explain below).

As to claims 2 and 25, these also narrow the claim scope, but their intent was not stated and is not self-evident. Consequently, these amendments were rejected, as were the corresponding amendments to dependent claims 3 and 26. Claims 4 and 27 that replaced wavelengths with pixel densities were considered new claims and were rejected.

Any amendment not obviously narrowing, was not allowed, since the onus was on applicant to explain why additional or seriously amended claims should be allowed.

Adding words like ‘wherein’ and correcting grammatical errors was allowed.

In conclusion, the amendments to claims 1, 5-24, and 28-52 were allowed, as was deleting original claims 5, 19, 30 and 44.  The new clauses in claims 2 and 25 for ‘the method comprising’ and ‘the device includes’ were rejected. The amendments to claims 3, 4, 26 ans 27 were likewise rejected.

Costs were to be awarded at the end of the main opposition

COMMENTS

I am not familiar with the term SWIR. Wikipedia considers SWIR as being below 1.4 micron and NIR as being from 1-3 microns. see here.

As defined by Commissioner Kling, the SWIR range is below that of the NIR range. The amendment protects a system using a sensor of wavelengths below 1 micron, whereas prior to the amendment it would be an acceptable work-around. Clearly, this is a widening of the scope of protection. If, for example, visible light was claimed and an amendment specified green light, or part of the spectrum from red to green, this would be a claim narrowing, since the new range is totally within the older range. That is not the case, at least not according to the Commissioner’s own definition. If he sees this, I’d expect him to correct the ruling. If not, there are grounds to appeal since the Commissioner is correct legally, but wrong scientifically. For those not with me on this, try drawing Venn diagrams.

 

 

 

 


BioLineRx Receives Notice of Allowance for US Patent Covering Novel Treatment for Celiac Disease

June 15, 2014

 

celiac

Israeli company BioLineRx has announced their receiving a Notice of Allowance for a US Patent  covering a novel treatment for celiac disease. See http://online.wsj.com/article/PR-CO-20140611-903862.html for more details.

 

 


Postscript: Mickey Mouse Kashruth Supervision as INTA

June 14, 2014

The International Trademark Association (INTA) is generally very good at providing Kosher food at their opening reception. Indeed, in Washington, a couple of years ago, not only was there a Kosher table, but the wine at the opening reception was Israeli (Barkan) and both Kosher and pasteurized.

As noted in this blog (here ) unfortunately this did not happen at INTA Hong Kong. The organizers, particularly the catering manager, Ms Hilary Cohen, were apologetic, but did try to make amends. She assured those of us who complained, that there would be kosher food at the finale in Disneyland.

Mickey Mouose Kashruth Supervision

Mickey-Mouse Kashruth Supervision

There was indeed food signposted as being Kosher at the finale. The range was impressive and it looked delicious. I was told by some colleagues that it was indeed delicious. There were some Kashruth Observant conference members who ate it, relying on INTA’s track-record and the fact that speakers and committee members had received supervised meals during the conference. It transpired however, that the food was prepared by Disney chefs and, although the meat may have been Kosher when purchased, some was prepared with butter, and all was cooked in a non-Kosher kitchen. (More details here).

Ortho-Ducks Kashruth Tribunal

Ortho-Ducks Bet-Din

 Rather than send an irate letter to the organizers, I thanked them for their efforts, and suggested that in future they ensure that in future they provide Kosher food under Rabbinical supervision, either in sealed boxes, or that an on-site Kashruth supervisor appointed by a local Beth Din. I am delighted to inform those of my readers who are concerned about such things, that INTA have taken this suggestion on board, and Kosher, supervised food will be available at future events. INTA’s letter may be found here.At smaller IP conferences I’ve attended in places as diverse as Paris, Hong Kong, Munich and Shenzhen, I’ve requested and been provided with Kosher food. In the most recent such conference, in Shenzhen, I had to inform the organizers where it could be obtained, by they made the effort and it was provided.

 I wish to take this opportunity to call on the committee members for the Israel branch of the AIPPI (who did a marvelous job providing Kosher food at their event in Tel Aviv) to work with the International committee to ensure that at future AIPPI conferences, Kosher food is available. Although I have taken the issue up with international committee members myself, I believe that as far as the AIPPI is concerned, this is an issue that the Israel committee should engage in.  This would be very much appreciated by the  not insignificant minority of Israeli members that are bothered by such things, and also by the sizeable number of Kashruth-Observant Jewish IP professionals and academics from around the world.


Passing off Moroccanoil

June 10, 2014

hair grease

The IPKAT reports that last week, Judge Hacon of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, England and Wales, gave judgment in Moroccanoil Israel Limited v Aldi Stores Limited [2014] EWHC 1686.

The company is an Israeli one. There was an Israel trademark decision that I reported a while back. See here.

The IPKAT’s comprehensive article is here.


The Full Monty

May 23, 2014

the full monty

The full monty is a British slang phrase of uncertain origin. It is generally used to mean “everything which is necessary, appropriate, or possible; ‘the works’”,[1] and has been in common usage in the north of England for many years.

Many theories are proposed as to the origin of this phrase, but none of them is supported by reliable historical evidence. Perhaps the most plausible is that it is from a colloquial shortening of the name of Montague Maurice Burton (1885-1952), men’s tailor, and referred originally to the purchase of a complete three-piece suit.

Also popular but unsubstantiated is the belief that the phrase is somehow derived from Monty, the nickname of Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery (1887-1976).

One useful side effect of being stuck in Hong Kong, is that I’ve had a suit, spare trousers and shirts made to measure. Hong Kong tailoring is not cheap, but the fabrics are high quality, the tailoring is excellent and being rather large, it is not easy for me to find stuff off the shelf.

In Hong Kong’s humid atmosphere, pure wool trousers and pure cotton shirts are much more comfortable than synthetics. This time I chose a tailor (or let a tailor choose me) who is in the same building as the Sefardic synagogue. He knows all about the prohibition of mixing wool and linen (shatnez) and times of Shabbat.

I’ve long suspected that there is one sweat shop that makes suits in Hong Kong and all the “tailors” with their trademark stacks of cloth and small shops are first cousins. There is no real competition. Maybe I exaggerate, but not by much. This time, I ascertained that there are at least two brothers and two cousins that each have shop fronts and use the same tailor, and another cousin in the next building.

The film of the name “The Full Monty”, is, in my opinion, far inferior to other British films of the same genre working class Britain under Thatcher genre. I recommend “Brassed Off”, “Billy Elliott” and “Kinky Boots”  as more enjoyable films based against the same background. I am aware that the Full Monty is very popular though.

Someone once categorized all American films as being varieties of the Western. There is some truth in this generalization. A lot of films end up with Police cars chasing the villains and there is little doubt of the origin of the phrase “cut to the chase”. Personally, I prefer British films to American movies. This may reflect growing up in London, but my Israeli wife prefers UK films and TV dramas as well. There is no comparison between Waking the Dead and CSI, and she enjoys the Midwife, Danton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs. I am not sure why Israelis like Are you being served?, but no accounting for taste. Blogging my travelog may be off subject for an IP blog, but it is my blog and I can do what I like on it. Like my criticisms of IP decisions, no one has to accept my views which are mine alone. However, I suspect that the growing following of my blog is indicative that some people enjoy my writing. Doing one blog post is easier than sending a dozen emails to different family members, friends and clients explaining why I have disappeared.

Anyway, unless something untoward happens, I will be back in Israel Sunday night and will start writing up the slew of decisions from the Israel Patent Office.


Hong Kong Sight-seeing

May 23, 2014

Peak tram

One benefit of finding myself back in Hong Kong again a week after INTA is that it is less humid and generally drier, and I’ve been able to do some sight-seeing.

I visited the Century Garden. I got tired reading the list of things that one cannot do there. No animals. No littering. No loitering. No children. I couldn’t see a sign banning patent attorneys but assume this is merely an oversight so I walked on by.

I went on to the Hong Kong National History Museum. This shows the planetary conditions from the Devonian period on, and explains how this collection of mountainous islands was formed. It takes one through the geology and fossils down to Neanderthal man, and then through the early dynasties. There is a display of pottery, coinage, and tools from the stone-age through the bronze age, and it was interesting comparing the technology to that in the Middle East at the same time. There were displays of stuffed animals arranged in different ecosystems and touch screens that are disinfected hourly, that provided more details of the geology, fauna and flora. There is also a wing showing the cultures of the different ethnicities, including the Hokklo and Hakka with Taoist alters, dragon boats and wedding customs. It was excellently done and is highly recommended.

Since falling on the stairs a couple of months ago, I’ve been suffering from vertigo. I think anyone taking the funicular railway to the Peak, which gives the illusion that the skyscrapers are tipping at an angle that would make Pisa look straight, must feel unsteady and confused. It is well worth it though. The view from the Peak is spectacular. One can walk around a botanical gardens with Victorian lamp-posts growing in Narnian splendour. Hong Kong is a paradox. With an English background, I tend not to notice that people drive on left and that there are a lot of English speakers. I am used to the electrical sockets and not surprised to find a Marks & Clerk Spencer. I understand that the mainland Chinese find Hong Kong very British.

Aberdeen is a fishing village on stilts. It is a remnant from Hong Kong’s past. There are also markets. Just wandering around and seeing the sculptures and things is fascinating. I hope other INTA participants managed to do some sight-seeing. Tel Aviv prides itself that it is a city that never sleeps. It can’t hold a candle to Hong Kong, where every shop seems to be open 24 hours, and roads are crowded at all hours.

 


Disney!

May 21, 2014

china disney

INTA’s final event at Hong Kong’s Disneyland was an opportunity to see my colleagues letting their hair down. I am a firm believer in having a girl in every port, and in the accompanying photo you can see Tweetie-Pie, my Hong Kong girl who let me join her and her family for the Winnie the Pooh ride.

Not having my kids to take me on the fast and furious rides, I enjoyed a couple more sedate activities.  I wish my 11 year old was with me. He’d enjoy Disney, but that’s not the reason. I would have liked to have pointed out that people whose job consists of waving a white Micky Mouse hand and smiling. I’ve been trying to convince him to study a little harder to have more options.

It was amusing that there was a sign by the jungle ride saying that one might get wet. As it was raining on and off, I think most of us got wet anyway. It was odd seeing one of Israel’s leading litigators (who shall remain nameless) wearing a pair of Micky Mouse ears.

Unlike the opening reception where Kosher food was absent, here, as promised the Mystic Point had a room with Kosher food. The same dining area contained vegetarian and Hallal. It could be that all of it was Rabbinically supervised, as Kosher food fulfils the Muslim requirements for Hallal. On the other hand, we were unable to clarify where the Kosher food came from and whether it was supervised or merely ‘Kosher style’. One meat dish was labeled as containing lactose. Was this a mistake? Was it Kosher meat cooked in butter or cream? I ate steamed salmon and salads. Some Kosher keeping konventioners ate everything and one only ate a banana that he pealed himself. Compared to INTA in the US, this was disappointing.  Nevertheless, the proximity of all the special diet foods meant we have Moroccan, Egyptian and Dubai colleagues at the next table. It may not immediately bring about an exchange of work, but I think that cordial relationships between Israeli patent attorneys and their colleagues in nearby jurisdictions is a positive force. I did suggest to one charming Jordanian associate whose first name is Jihad, that perhaps like the Chinese, he should consider an English name like Gerald or Jared.

Overall, Disneyland is not such inappropriate place to hold an INTA event. INTA conferences are a kind of fairy-tale world of receptions and beer drinking, where one fantasizes about landing lots of new corporate clients.


China

May 21, 2014

willow_plate

I took a cab from the hotel to Central Station where I caught the Central Line to Fukyu. As with the London Underground, the Central Line is marked red, no doubt Marty Schwimmer will be having a campaign to deal with this. I changed at Fukyu and again at Swetrash. After, maybe 45 minutes I disembarked at Li Lui in Shanzhen, and discovered that my extended Chinese visa had ran out in April. I was sent upstairs where there were three adjacent windows. At the first one, I was photographed. At the second I paid 168 RMB and at the third I received change and a three month visa. I went back downstairs and queued at the same window. This time I was waived through. The entire exercise took less time than passport control at Ben Gurion Airport on an Israeli passport. Apparently it helped that I’d been in and out of China on a number of occasions. First time visitors apparently get sent home.

China is different from Hong Kong. In Hong Kong the taxis drivers sit on the right and drive on the left side of the road. In China, like the rest of the world, they drive on the wrong side. Taxi drivers in Hong Kong can manage to find places if you say name slowly. In China, you really want the concierge in the hotel to write out the name of the hotel and to pick up a business card with the hotel’s name on it so you can get back.

There are similarities, of course. Nasal Diphthongs and unidentified frying objects. Massage parlours offering real massages. Shops selling leading brands at fabulously high prices and markets selling fakes at fabulously low prices.

I was ‘helped’ by a porter who took my luggage through and found me a limousine. It was fun being conned, and the cost, though 10 times what it should have been, wasn’t a lot of money. I took the limo to the Marriott hotel for the 6th Chinese In-House Counsel Patent Conference that I am proud to sponsor. Each year I attend, I note that the lectures and questions are more sophisticated. Unlike the Disneyland of INTA, here the participants listened to the talks and took notes. I had previously told the organizers where to obtain them, and was delighted to have Kosher meals provided, courtesy of Chabad. The hotel suite in the Marriott was about the size of an average Israeli apartment. The free standing bath tub had Herodian proportions. My body, mind and soul were in different time zones, and at 2 AM, unable to sleep, I watched the Woman in Red. I could identify with Julia Roberts as my hotel room was like the penthouse in the film.

Watching films at night meant that I nodded off during the lectures. However, the tea breaks were a good time to stock up on caffeine. After determining that neither dragon fruit nor dragon’s eyes are not made from real dragons, I enjoyed these new fruits, and also munched on raw vegetables. There were simultaneous translations from English into Chinese and from Chinese into English. For me, the highlight of the conference was a session with a panel of three IP judges. These were wearing short sleeve shirts and seemed relatively young. One wore an orange tee-shirt. Informal, even by Israeli standards, the session was a candid question and answer with the audience. One participant was good naturedly told that she should have got a better IP lawyer. A complaint about why damages in China were lower than in the US was, correctly perhaps, deflected into a criticism of the size of awards there. A judge noted the number of cases he has to hear in a year. It was sobering to realize that another dozen or so parties would not get justice due to the event. The final discussion got a little het-up and the senior judge started shouting. I could not follow what the issue was. It started in bifurcated Germany, and involved something pharmaceutical. The simultaneous translation used words like farm instead of forum and wasn’t familiar with all the abbreviations.

Unlike INTA, it was clear that the Chinese participants had come to learn. Everyone attended the lectures and many took notes.

On Friday afternoon, I moved on to the Comfort Inn which is in the center of Chanzhen and perhaps 2 minutes away from Chabad, where I spent the Shabbat. This hotel was most noteworthy for its closeness to the Chabad House, but was clean and comfortable. The beds were wider and softer than the Bishop’s Lei in Hong Kong, known for its proximity to the Jewish Center. The leceptionists were used to Jewish customers forgetting their electronic keys in their rooms and were very understanding. I originally intended checking out after sunset and going on to Zhuhai, and even with paying for two nights, it was about the third of the cost of the Marriott.

Chabad Chenzhen is a shteibl. Much less formal than Heichal Ezra, the Sefardic community in Hong Kong. There were notices that they rely on donations, but no appeals and no auctioning of the aliyot. The rabbi’s wife was friendly and so were their four little children, the youngest Esti, born in Chanzhen on Purim. She reminded me of my fathers joke of why I have two siblings only – that every fourth child is Chinese.

The Shabbat meal was around one big table Friday night and around a smaller table for lunch. We felt that we were guests of the Rabbi and his family. It was homelike and very pleasant. Most of the guests, both those living in Chanzhen and those visiting, were Israeli, and the language heard was Hebrew. People carried to and from Shul. Many who attended the dinner did not attend the service earlier and left before saying Grace After Meals. The Rabbi was very laid back, offering a Jewish experience to his guests without making demands.

Three enormous Lazy Susan turntables on the table were used for salads, and Friday night supper consisted of salads and fish followed by chicken, rice and kugel. The dessert was cake and fresh fruit. The challot were baked on the premises. There was plenty of whiskey as well.

Shacharit, the morning service, was supposed to be at 10 am, but we waited until 11 to start, and until 11:30 for the tenth man to turn up. Whilst waiting, we ate some very good cheesecake, which seemed a little sacrilegious before Shavuot. At 1:30, after finishing the additional Shabbat service, we went straight into the afternoon service. It was rather like Rosh HaHashana. Lunch consisted of salads and fish followed by cholent and then more cake.

As it was the 32nd of the Omer, we had a spirited rendition of Bar-Yochai.

I left in the morning, taking the ferry to Zhuhai where my client’s personal assistant met me from the boat.

I am writing this from my 5th and final hotel this trip. Unlike my previous stay in Zhuhai where I stayed as a guest of my client, and the hotel room had a private toilet with a wash & blow dry multispeed post defecation procedure, the present hotel is equally palatial, but the toilet uses the type of system that printed copies of prior art are so useful for. Also, instead of complimentary giveaways from Durex, there were novelty balloons with vibrating elements in the bathroom. One of my hobbies is creating balloon animals. Not really sure of the original purpose as the packaging was written in Chinese, I enjoyed myself fabricating one of these into a reasonable animated likeness of a rattlesnake.

In general, it seems that within each jurisdiction the luxuriousness of hotel accommodation correlates better with cost than does the cost of IP services.

I have bought presents for the wife and kids, and some silk ties for staff. I am off to visit a client tomorrow.

The pace of growth and change in China is something else. My client drove me back to the hotel and pointed out a train station for the bullet train. I mentioned not remembering it from last year. He responded that last year there was a restaurant there. Imagine, a fully functioning super railway in less than 12 months. According to the client, Chinese high-tech is less conservative than in the West and are more amenable to switch to better and cheaper technologies. It seems that China is not only a massive market, but also an engine for change. Apparently the Chinese education system and mentality does not lend itself to creativity though. In this regard, apparently the Taiwanese who lived under Japanese occupation and influence, are different from the mainland Chinese. I am not here long enough to understand the cultural upheavals. It is clear though, that Chinese communism is a go-get-it capitalist system and it is also clear that Chinese television is similar to that in the West, with similar reality music shows. Not everything is rosy though. I will have to wait until I am back in Hong Kong to post this, since WordPress is unavailable. It seems that in the US there is a fair amount of monitoring of private emails and chat rooms, even if there is less censorship.


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