Shabbat in Cambridge – Friday Night Dinner

September 10, 2015


Keeping Shabbat in a place like Cambridge, is a logistical exercise. I decided not to light candles in the dormitory as I was afraid of the triggering the smoke detector, instead, I made the benediction over the candles on the table at the banquet.

One of the problems with having watched Mama Mia the previous evening, is that sometimes various lyrics popped up in my head, such as Friday night and the lights are low.
On the Shabbat, Jews are prohibited from carrying from one jurisdiction to another. This posed a challenge when sleeping in Murray Edwards but eating in St Edmunds, so near, yet so far. I left my room key in a pigeon hole in Murray Edwards corridor, and took a small bottle of Kosher wine, the challa and a prayer book over to St Edmunds before dusk.
In the summer recess, the Cambridge Synagogue does not have Friday night prayers. As there was a crucifix on the wall in the dining hall, I decided to pray in the gardens.

The 15th Duke of Northfolk

The 15th Duke of Northfolk

This is a portrait of the 15th Duke of Northolk that hangs in the dining hall.

Rabbi Yoel Bin Nun

Rabbi Yoel Bin Nun

As can be seen from the photograph alongside, Rabbi Yoel Bin Nun, maverick member of the Gush Emmunim (the block of the Faithful, a Messianic Settler movement), a Bible scholar with interests including Biblical Archaeology, bears an uncanny relationship to the Duke.

Van Hugel, (c) St Edmund's College

Van Hugel, (c) St Edmund’s College

Here is a picture of Von Hügel,

Rabbi Louis Jacobs

Rabbi Louis Jacobs

and one of the late Rabbi Louis Jacobs (17 July 1920 – 1 July 2006,[1]), perhaps the most brilliant scholar to graduate Gateshead and Manchester Yeshivas.In 1957, Rabbi Jacobs published a controversial book called ‘We Have Reason to Believe’ in which he tried to reconcile modern day Orthodox Jewish faith with the Documentary Hypothesis. Deeming his views heretical, then Chief Rabbi Brodie blocked his becoming the principle of Jews College and his return to the New West End Synagogue, resulting in the community defecting with him and his establishing of what became the Massorti Movement which is roughly equivalent to Conservative Judaism in the US.

The other portraits of College notables on the wall (and the crucifix) looked decidedly Catholic.

One of the most awful sitcoms on British television is about a typically dysfunctional Jewish family and their Friday Night Dinner.

Friday night dinner

I can assure you that the Friday night banquet in Cambridge was nothing like that portrayed in the sitcom. It was also nothing like the Friday night dinner I have (and sometimes enjoy, if the kids aren’t playing up) with my family. Nevertheless, it was very enjoyable.

The tables had name cards. The napkins were folded like Bishop’s mitres. I found myself sitting between Dr Phoebe Li and a barrister called Mark Engleberg.

After a Latin grace, everyone sat down except me. Like Shakespeare, I have small latine and little Greeke, but from what I could follow, the grace didn’t relate to the Exodus from Egypt or God’s creation of the World.

I read the Kiddush (Hebrew Grace) quietly, and Mark answered Amen and told me that it had been a while since he’d heard Kiddush. He is a fellow of St Edmunds and, it turns out, is an ex Hasmo boy. Hasmonean is a Jewish parochial school in London, which I had attended, apparently about a decade after Mark. (It always struck me as rather a Jesuit institution, with teachers having Rabbinic ordination in subjects such as maths and art).

The chief chef apologized that since it was college holiday time, they only had a Kosher main course for me, which was fish. He asked if I’d like something else, and I suggested fruit salad for dessert.

I mated my challa with the (probably Kosher) bread roll for HaMotzi, as breaking bread on Shabbat requires a double portion, reminiscent of the double portion of Manna in the desert (see Exodus 16:23-24) and the double wrapped, Hermolis fried haddock, mashed potato and spinach was perfectly adequate. Indeed, on Roman asking about it, I told him that with two such meals and five bread rolls, I could have fed everyone (see Matthew 14:13-21).

It is not only Jews that have odd dietary laws of course. The following is faithfully copied from the Conference Programme:

Note for Roman Catholic Delegates concerning Friday Dining

Please note that for Roman Catholics who ordinarily are bound by the Friday meat abstinence regulation of the Catholics Bishopss’ Conference of England and Wales, a special dispensation from the regulation has been granted by the local ordinary, the RT Rev Alan Hopes, Bishop of East Anglia, for those attending the Patents on Life conference.

I realized that at a pinch I could have had the bishop sprinkle some holy water over the main course, and baptize it as fish.

I mentioned to Dr Phoebe Li that I felt that like patents, I felt that copyright should be renewable up to 20 years from conception, since I did not see any justification for the ever longer periods of protection. She corrected me, noting that patents were for at least 20 years, quoting the various international treaties. I asked if she had ever practiced, and discovered, as I’d anticipated, that she was an academic who lectured in patent law but did not write or prosecute patents. Dr Li is, of course correct. However, so am I. From the perspective of patentees a patent issues and periodically renewal fees must be paid to keep it in force for up to 20 years (25 for pharmaceutical drugs in certain circumstances).

The dinner that the others were eating looked delicious, and, according to Phoebe, was as good as it looked.

With the candles in front of me, conversation was limited to my two neighbours. The Master, the Honorable Matthew Bullock spoke very well.

I left my prayer book at the porter’s desk, and was chuffed Saturday night to find it adorned with a Post It label stating “left by the Rabbi”. I suppose it’s an easy mistake to make until I open my mouth…

Here is an ecumenical joke about fried fish.

Rabbi Cohen was on his way home in the pouring rain and his path led past a monastry. his friend the Abbott invited him in to get out of the rain and told him that he was just in time for supper in the refectory. Rabbi Cohen demurred but the Abbott informed him that the menu was fish and chips, so it was all perfectly Kosher.
The fish and chips was delicious and Rabbi Cohen wished to complement the chef. Two priests came over. “I am the fish friar” one said. “Let me guess, said Rabbi Cohen to the other, “You must be the chip monk!”   

Patents on Life: Through the Lenses of Law, Religious Faith and Social Justice – ‘defining the boundaries’

September 10, 2015

VHI WEBSITE NEW jpg 375 px

I was flattered and delighted to be invited to lecture at a conference titled ‘Patents on Life: Through the Lenses of Law, Religious Faith and Social Justice’ on 4-5 September 2015. The conference was co-sponsored by the Von Hügel Institute (VHI), an interdisciplinary research institution dedicated to the study of the relationship between Christianity and society based at St. Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge, and the Terrence J. Murphy Institute, University of St. Thomas, Minnesota (USA), which is a US institute with a similar agenda.

The program was organized by Dr Roman Cholij, a Cambridge based trademark attorney  who spoke at an event I organized on ‘Intellectual Property in Jewish Law‘ back in 2011 together with the Yad l’Rav Herzog Talmudic Research Institute which publishes the Talmudic Encyclopedia.

I invited Dr Cholij to talk about IP in the Christian tradition and also invited Professor Amir Khoury of Tel Aviv University to talk about IP in Arab Countries, to provide some colour and contrast in that conference which was top heavy with Rabbis and Orthodox Jewish IP Professors such as Jeremy Phillips (trademarks) and David Nimmer (copyright). It seems that that conference was the inspiration for the present one, so I seem to have god-fathered a Catholic conference! As Koheleth (Ecclesiastes 11:1) put it: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days”.

Taken from their website, the Von Hügel Institute (VHI) is an interdisciplinary research institution dedicated to the study of the relationship between Christianity and society based at St. Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge. Founded in 1987 the institute preserves and develops the Roman Catholic heritage of St Edmund’s and carries out research on contemporary political, social, legal and economic issues from the perspective of Catholic social teaching. The VHI is committed to an ecumenical approach working with Christians and other faith groups and responding to challenges to the common good and threats to human dignity and life.

The participants of the conference were housed in the cloisters dormitories of Murray Edwards College, which I remember as New Hall. I had several friends, mostly seminary semi girls that were registered and studied there. However, I’d never seen the dorms. They weren’t that kind of girl women.

Each room had a bed, a wardrobe and a desk and bookcase, with on suite bathroom. In Yeshiva, we were three to a room of a similar size (1 bunk + 1 single). However, study took place in pairs in the Bet Midrash or study hall, resulting to an ambient noise level that may occur in the canteen in Cambridge, but I doubt would be tolerated in the library.

The conference addressed the following types of questions:

  • Should control of living matter be in the hands of private corporations?
  • Are patents on seeds defensible in developing countries?
  • Should information on the human genome be privatised?
  • Who should decide when a patent should be forbidden on grounds of immorality

In addition to Israel’s top IP blogger, the star cast of speakers included top Vatican officials, academics, lawyers, industry professionals, theologians and representatives of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and attracted lawyers and patent attorneys, theologians, bioethicists, social and political scientists, environmentalists, life scientists and students of law, religion and social justice.

The full programme is available here.

From the Church – leaders on social justice, development, and IP:

  • Stephen ColecchiDirector of the Office of International Justice and Peace of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • Dr. Carlo MarenghiIP & Trade Attaché: Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the UN Office in Geneva & WTO
  • Mons. Osvaldo Neves de Almeida, Secretariat of State, with responsibility for TRIPs (WTO), UNCTAD and formerly for WIPO
  • The Rt Rev John Sherrington, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, Department of Christian Responsibility, The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales
  • H.E. Archbishop Silvano M. TomasiApostolic Nuncio: Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN Office in Geneva & WTO
Legal academics – experts in patent and IP law from Europe and the US:
  • Prof. Margo A. Bagley, Hardy Cross Dillard Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law
  • Prof. Graham DutfieldProfessor of International Governance, University of Leeds School of Law, Member of the International Scholars Networks of Intellectual Property in the Biosciences
  • Prof. Paul HealdRichard W. and Marie L. Corman Professor of Law, University of Illinois
  • Dr Kathleen LiddellFaculty of Law, University of Cambridge and Director, Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences
  • Prof. Ruth OkedijiWilliam L. Prosser Professor of Law, University of Minnesota Law School
  • Prof. Joshua D. SarnoffProfessor of Law, DePaul University, USA
  • Prof. Brian Scarnecchia, Ave Maria School of Law, Franciscan University of Steubenville, USA
  • Prof. Ingrid SchneiderDepartment of Political Sciences, University of Hamburg, Research Centre for Biotechnology, Society and the Environment
  • Dr Katerina SideriIntellectual Property Advisor, Agricultural University of Athens; Member of the International Scholars Network of Intellectual Property in the Biosciences
From legal practice and industry:
  • The Hon. Mr Justice Richard ArnoldJudge of the High Court of England and Wales
  • Dr Julian CockbainEuropean Patent Lawyer, author, consultant and bioethics expert
  • Mark EngelmanBarrister and Head of IP at Hardwicke Chambers, Lincoln’s Inn; Master of the Bench, Gray’s Inn; Von Hügel Institute Research Associate, St Edmund’s College
  • Dr Michael Factor, leading Israeli Patent attorney and IP blogger
  • Martin Gouldstone, Head of Lifesciences Advisory, BDO
  • Dr Michael KockGlobal Head of IP, Syngenta
  • Christopher Rennie-SmithFormer Chair of the Biotech Board of Appeal and former Member of the Enlarged Board of Appeal at the European Patent Office
  • Dr Justin Turner QC, Barrister at Three New Square chambers, Lincoln’s Inn; Director of UKAD (the United Kingdom anti-doping agency); former member of the Gene Therapy Advisory Committee (GTAC)
Theologians and ethicists:
Conference co-hosts:
  • Prof. Tom Berg, James L. Oberstar Professor of Law and Public Policy, University of St Thomas, Minnesota
  • Dr Roman Cholij, Von Hügel Institute Research Associate, St Edmund’s College; IP Practitioner

It would be very time consuming to reproduce all the excellent presentations, and I understand that a book of the papers presented is forthcoming.

The following blog postings detail each session and some of what were for me, the highlights of the event, and some thoughts about the similarities and differences of Judaism and Catholicism.

Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner

September 8, 2015

I am just back from a short break in the UK, where I presented a paper at a conference on Life, Patents and Social Justice at the Van Hugel Institute, Cambridge.

To keep things bite-size, I am blogging my adventures in a number of posts. This one is about the three days I spent in London.

I love the drizzle of London. I love the Underground where everyone studiously avoids eye contact with everyone else; minding the gap and also their own business. I love the chill in the air and the dampness. I love the greyness and greenness of it all. At least after the hot dry Israeli summer with the long summer vacation, It was wonderful to catch a few days in London and, after the long vacation, to enjoy a holiday from the family.


I managed to catch a couple of plays, to see some old friends and to stock up on underwear in Marks & Clerk Sparks, Spenser It’s not that one can’t buy underpants in Israel. Israelis do. Indeed, we do for the rest of the family. It’s just that apparently one take the Englishman out of London, but somethings remain. I stocked up on mustard powder, tea bags, smoked salmon and piccalilli.

My fellow ex-Pats such as Israel patent attorneys Dr Susan Lifshitz, Michael Morris, Jeremy Ben-David and Warren Kaye will know exactly what I mean. Noone else will.


“The time has come the Walrus said, to talk of many things”. Who’d have thought that instead of one day travel cards, one pays the carpenter for London traveling with oysters? Other than that, very little had changed. I saw posters in the tube station that must have been around when I was in the third form (Eighth Grade) announcing the last few weeks of 1984. The more things change, I reflected, the more things stay the same. In other, words, the pigs become men.


London Suburbia. Tudorbethan semidetached houses with a garage from which one can take the car out. But why would one? There is no parking in London, any where, or at least not within 1 mile of a tube or train station, at any time. Doorsteps, often covered with triangular porch supported on Doric columns for meeting the postman or milkman. The hall with the stairs running up one side. Wallpaper! Wall-to-wall carpeting over creaky floorboards. Linoleum. Formica covered counter tops. The dining room for special occasions and sancti-sancticorum, the morning room for only the most intimate of friends.


I managed to catch two musicals. I saw a show called “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway if You Haven’t Any Jews. The show tracks the development of the Broadway musical from Gershwin, through Rogers & Hammerstein and Sondheim, with performances of many hit songs. The storyline basically argued that it wasn’t just the composers and lyricists who were Jewish, but also the 25% of New Yorkers who were Jewish that made up the audience. I was sitting near the front, and turned around to have a look at the audience. Although I was the only one in a Kipa, I’d hazard a guess that 80% of the audience were members of the tribe. On stage, with the notable exception of the highly-talented but way to blonde and blue eyed Lloyd, and the Gentile but not obviously so, fabulous singer, Sara Brightman, the vast majority of the caste were clearly Jewish as well. The bar was serving special New Year, Kosher Cocktails with ingredients such as pomegranate juice (grenadine), apple & honey liquers. The show was a foot tapping success, with hits from West Side Story, Guys 7 Dolls, Chicago, Annie Get Your Gun and Fiddler on the Roof. The second half had the theme music of Fame, songs from Hairspray and Gypsy.

Fiddler and, of course, Mel Brooks hilarious musical The Producers were obviously written by Jews, but the Sound of Music? Little Shop of Horrors? Sweeney Todd?

The cast came out into the foyer at the end, and were very friendly.


Leicester Square now has a Ben & Jerry’s a couple of doors along from Haagen Dazs , so one can choose from a wide range of gourmet classical or funky ice-creams, and they are all Kosher!


The second show I saw was the fabulous but definitely goyish Mama Mia. I spent much of the Seventies travelling to and from school by school bus, and Abba was the soundtrack of my childhood. I recognized virtually all the songs. Oddly, for a dukebox musical created around previously written songs, it works! The story is about a girl who invites all three of her mother’s paramours to her wedding, as she wanted her father to be there and was sure she’d recognize him. It struck me that the I was about the age of the three men. Spooky.

badger beer

Professor Jeremy Phillips invited me to join him and his gang of IP professionals at the Old Nick, a delightful olde pub in Holborn. Their local brew is known as badger’s. To me, it tasted like Brockian piss, and after a few sips, I asked the blogmeister if it would offend him if I added some lemonade. He was somewhat horrified by the idea, but not offended. On shandification, it was quite palatable. One eminent practitioner ordered a pint of tumbleweed Tangle-wood. There was something strange about it all.


IP Solo bloggers Barbara Cookson and Jeremy Phillips, together with Jo Collens, Michael Jaegar and I reconvened at Reubens. I forgo their signature salt beef and their fish & chips for beef wellington. It was very good. You’d never have known that it was made from old boots.

Shana Tova to All Our Readers

September 7, 2015


The Israel Patent Office is closed from 13th- 15th September 2015 for Rosh Hashana, 22nd-23rd September 2015 for Yom Kippur, and from 27th September to 5th October 2015 for Suckot.  All deadlines are extended until the next working day.

IP Factor’s Annual PCTea Party

September 7, 2015
mad hatter's tea party
We are delighted to invite you to our annual PCTea Party, an informal event that follows the Jewish Holiday period.
The reception will be followed by some insights by Professor Jeremy Phillips on recent IP developments around the World:
back to work
 “IP in 2015 – Where we are vs. Where I thought we’d be

When: 7 October 2015; 5 PM to 7 PM  Add to Calendar

Where:   Cinema City, Itzhak Rabin 10, (Opposite the Supreme Court), Jerusalem

To register, click here.
Contact us here

RedHill waves a red Flag

August 30, 2015

Sometimes, companies publish the oddest press releases. Here is one that is doing the rounds on the Internet, and, with a dearth of decisions due to court recesses (and yes, I have been scratching around for things to write about this past month) this press release has been noticed:
RedHill Biopharma (NASDAQ: RDHL) announced that it has received a Notice of Allowance from the Israeli Patent Office (ILPO) for a new Israeli patent No. 207420 covering the formulation of RHB-104, a proprietary and potentially groundbreaking antibiotic combination therapy in oral capsule formulation, with potent intracellular, anti-mycobacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
The Israeli patent application No. 207420 is entitled “Methods and Compositions for Treating Inflammatory Bowel Disease”. Once granted, the patent is expected to be valid through at least 2029.
The new patent allowance in Israel further extends the geographic reach of RedHill’s intellectual property for RHB-104 and is an addition to already granted U.S. patents and pending filings in other countries.
RHB-104 is currently undergoing a first Phase III study for Crohn’s disease in the U.S. and additional countries, including Israel (the MAP US study), and a second Phase III study (the MAP EU study) is planned to be conducted in selected European countries in parallel with the ongoing MAP US Phase III study. Interim analysis of the ongoing randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled MAP US Phase III study is expected in the second half of 2016, after half of the 270 patients planned to be enrolled in the study will have completed 26 weeks of treatment.
RHB-104 is also being evaluated as a treatment for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). The last patient has been enrolled in an open label Phase IIa, proof-of-concept clinical study evaluating RHB-104 as an add-on therapy to interferon beta-1a in patients treated for RRMS (the CEASE-MS study). Top-line interim results are expected either in the fourth quarter of 2015 or the first quarter of 2016.


Several things struck me about the press release:

  • Regardless of the title, methods of treatment of inflammatory bowel disease’ are not patentable in Israel or most other countries. Without looking at the allowed claims, one assumes that the claims directed to a method of treatment were cancelled.
  • Following the cancellation of the claims directed to the method of treatment, the title is misleading and should be amended. If the Israel Examiner did not require this, one suspects he/she was less than conscientious in examining this application.
  • One suspects that the case was allowed under section 17c based on a granted US patent directed to the Compositions. In other words, the Israel Examiner probably rubber stamped the application.
  • Unlike opposition procedures in the US and Europe which challenge the validity of an issued patent and may result in its cancellation, in Israel publication for a three month opposition period is part of the pre-issuance examination process. There is no assumption of validity. The Israel Patent Office essentially invites the public to comment on the validity of the patent application once the examiner has been satisfied.
  • In many fields of human innovation oppositions to Israel applications issuing are rare. However, in the field of pharmaceuticals, oppositions are extremely common. Both Teva and Unipharm are very active opposing patent applications for pharmaceuticals, and, they have a very good success rate.
  • Opposition processes in Israel are open book inter-partes affairs. Many large and established pharmaceutical companies abandon allowed patent applications in Israel on a Notice of Opposition being filed, being prepared to lose a small market of 7-8 million rather than having the prior art and arguments of record as these may result in drug patents being canceled overseas. This has happened with patents to Glaxosmithkline, to Lundbeck, to Novartis and others.
  • In the circumstances, one wonders why RedHill published this press release. It is premature and only serves to warn Teva and Unipharm that there is a new kid on the block.
  • In this instance, according to the press-release, RHB-104 is being evaluated for relapse remitting multiple schlerosis. One would assume that Teva, whose drug Copaxone (glatiramer acetate) is also used to treat relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, will certainly note this patenting having passed the examiner stage in Israel, now that has been flagged in a press-release, and will be considering opposing this patent.

So am I right?

I had a quick look at the file wrapper. It transpired that the Applicant amended claims to those of Issued United States Patent Number US 8,343,511 and requested allowance under Section 17c.

The title was amended to “PHARMACEUTICAL COMPOSITION COMPRISING RIFABUTIN, CLARITHROMYCIN AND CLOFAZIMINE AND A METHOD OF FORMULATING THE COMPOSITION”. Thus the patent office did its job. The press release gives the wrong title. One therefore wonders how much else is accurate.

We now wait to see if, on publication, the application is opposed.

Over 600 Readers!

August 27, 2015


We are delighted to note that the IP Factor has just registered its 601st reader. Thank you for your support.


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