Lapsed Patent for Monitoring Flow of Sewage Reinstated

July 25, 2016

renew

Israel Patent Number IL 214216 titled “SEWAGE FLOW METERING METHOD”to Roberto Cymmerman lapsed due to failure to pay the first renewal. The patent issued on 1 July 2015 and so the deadline for renewal was 1 October 2015. The payment was not paid on time. Nor was it paid during the six month grace period under Section 57 of the Israel Patent Law 1967. The fact that the patent had lapsed had not published.

On 30 May 2016 the Applicant requested reinstatement via legal counsel but a Power of Attorney appointing the legal counsel was only submitted after a ruin from 6 June 2016.

An affidavit from Patent Attorney Yoram Savyon who had previously represented the Applicant was submitted. From the Affidavit it transpired that the firm uses a computerized renewal system that was updated on receipt of the notice of allowance; with a calculation of the anticipated date of grant. Based on this, the final deadline for paying the forthcoming renewal was entered. (Further renewals are derived from the filing date and are entered with the filing of the application).

In this instance, the worker who manages the database did not enter the first renewal (which is based on the issue date), but did enter the subsequent renewal date. That the patent issued was reported by the office manager to the relevant worker and it is not clear why he failed to enter the information.

According to the Affidavit, some two months before the final deadline for paying the second renewal, i.e. in May 2016, the Applicants were informed of the deadline and then it transpired that the first renewal was not paid as the deadline was not entered into the system. The Affidavit also noted that for mistakes of this kind, the worker had already been fired.

Deputy Commissioner Ms Bracha noted that the patent itself was filed on 20 July 2011 and so the deadline for the second renewal (years 6 to 10) was 20 July 2017 and not 2016 as claimed in the Affidavit. This mistake raises eyebrows to some extent with regards to the facts detailed in the Affidavit as to how the mistake was discovered. Nevertheless, the mistake for not paying the fee in a timely manner that was detailed in the Affidavit does fit in with the requirements of Section 60 of the Law and so (intent and due care – MF) and so, provided the fee is paid in a timely manner, Deputy Commissioner Ms Jacqueline Bracha saw fit to allow reinstatement, together with an opportunity to the public to oppose.

Ruling by Ms Jacqueline Bracha concerning reinstatement of IL214216, lapsed due to failure to pay renewal fee, 20 June 2016.

COMMENT
In this case, a human error resulted in failure to insert a date into a spreadsheet or dedicated program by a poorly trained and incompetent clerk who was subsequently fired. In the Colb ruling, hand-written renewal records and a more excusable error were considered a lack of due care. I argued that even computerized systems required data to be correctly entered and extracted. In this case, there seems to be a bug in the system for calculating subsequent renewals in that five years and not six is hard wired into the system (or perhaps the filing date was typed in a year early by mistake?!). There is a second error blamed on the office junior who was righteously fired, but was he/she at fault? The main thing justifying this case being considered due care seems to be the use of a computer system, despite it having a bug and being operated by someone incapable of data entry. I consider this standard of due care to be overly reliant on there being a computerized renewal system in place. Objectively, there were apparently two errors here and no indication that there was any intention to pay the first renewal in a timely manner whereas in the Colb case there was one error.


Big Deal

July 20, 2016

big deal

Israel trademark Application Number 131862 to H.A.B. Trading LTD is for the words “BIG DEAL” for Shop services for toys, kitchenware, disposable articles, houseware, clothing for children, and drawing books in class 25.

Yidiot Internet filed a request to have the mark canceled.

For those of you wondering what’s the big deal, the following images may help clarify:

H.A.B. Trading have stores of discounted goods and Yediot Internet (YNet) has an internet special offer website.

H.A.B. Trading LTD has now requested that Yidiot Internet’s counter-evidence be deleted from the file. Yidiot countered the request, but H.A.B. Trading did not respond before 15 June 2016 when Ms Yaara Shoshani-Caspi, Adjudicator at the Israel Patent Office gave the following decision.

The mark owner (H.A.B. Trading LTD) claimed that Yediot Internet were tardy and missed the deadline for filing their counter-evidence with the court and with the mark owner.Furthermore, the counter-evidence was unacceptable in that it was not provided as an affidavit, did not include a warning from the attorneys to tell the truth or suffer the consequences, and did not include the title “expert opinion”.

Yediot Internet responded H.A.B. Trading LTD’s request for cancellation was niggardly and superfluous. They consider that the counter-evidence was timely filed, were in the appropriate form, and if the court rules otherwise, they should have an opportunity to repackage the response in an appropriate manner.

RULING

The correct way to present evidence in a trademark proceeding are given in regulations 38 and 40 of the trademark regulations 1940.

Regulation 38 states:

The opposer has to submit all his evidence within two months of receiving the applicant’s response.

Regulation 40 relates to the response to the opposer’s response to the applicant’s evidence and states:

In response, the opposer may submit counter evidence within two months and deposit a copy with the applicant.

Ms Shoshani-Caspi concluded that the last date for the applicant for cancellation to file counter-evidence was 6 April 2016,. The evidence was filed on 7 April 2016 – i.e. a day late. The mark owner only received a copy by registered mail on the 17 April 2016 .

The language of Regulation 40 should be understood as instructions for one party to provide evidence to the other party simultaneously with submitting the evidence to the patent office and not afterwards. However, as a matter of principle, disputes should not be decided based on procedural issues only where there is no irreversible damage to the opposing party. See 189/66 Asiz Sasson vs. Kedma LTD  – Car and Equipment Factory P.D. 20(3) 466, 479. In this instance, the procedural irregularities do not cause irreversible harm to the mark owner since the next stage of the proceedings is to fix a date for a hearing. The tardiness does not justify cancelling the proceedings.

That said, the document titled “Response to Dr Sarid’s Opinion has a signed blank sheet attached that casts aspersions regarding whether the signature belongs with the response, as there is no reason for the last page not to be signed. The document does not include the name of the expert who wrote it and is undated. It is also not endorsed by a lawyer. So whilst cancelling the evidence and closing the case on procedural grounds is a drastic step, this does not mean that anything is acceptable.

Consequently, the applicant for cancellation has 14 days to resubmit the expert opinion as a proper signed and dated affidavit with appropriate lawyer’s warning within 14 days, and to ensure that the trademark owner’s counsel receives a copy in this period as well. Interim costs of 800 Shekels + VAT are awarded to the mark owner, to be paid within 14 days.

 


Shabbat Lifts Not for the Public Good

July 18, 2016

 

shabbat liftG.L. Glatt Lift Company LTD filed a patent application for a Shabbat Lift; an elevator that may be used on the Jewish Sabbath without transgression of the holy day. (The term Glatt relates to a standard for Kosher beef that the generally accepted Ashkenazi authorities consider a stringency. By transference, the term implies super-Kosher, or something similar. Many Jewish authorities allow usage of a lift that stops automatically, or riding in a lift in a hospital or similar if someone assumed to be non-Jewish operates it for their benefit. Other authorities are stricter. More discussion on this is given at the end of this article).

Maalit ShabbatIn this instance, the Applicants have filed a patent for a technological Hallachic solution that is allegedly novel and inventive and that is claimed to overcome the reservations of those Hallachic authorities that do not allow usage of the type of ‘Shabbat Lifts’ that are common in apartment blocks with religious residents.

Israel Patent Application No. IL 221842 titled “Shabbat Lift” was submitted on 9 September 2012 The application claims priority from a US provisional application number 61/533,244 that was filed on 11 September 2011, and a corresponding PCT applicaition, No PCT/IB2012/054604 was also filed.

On 13 October 2015, the Applicants received a Notice Prior to Examination to which they responded on 1 February 2016 with a list of prior art. The submission of a response to the Notice Prior to Examination creates a state of affairs by which the application is ready for examination (see 5.3 of the Examination Procedure for Examiners).

On 1 February 2016 the Applicant also submitted a request for accelerated examination, which is a petition to make special. The justification for the request was that awarding the patent was in the public interest.

The Applicant claimed that the lack of appropriate Shabbat lifts prevented high-rise accommodation for the Ultra-Orthodox and the proposed solution would overcome this barrier. The Applicant considered that his invention would facilitate high-rise Ultra-Orthodox accommodation and thereby minimize land usage (by increasing the population density) and would thereby lower building costs.The solution would also make life easier for the ill, the elderly and children who could not use elevators on Shabbat. Various articles regarding the lack of accommodation for the Ultra-Orthodox were appended.

The statement was not specific, but it appears that the legal support was claimed from Section 19a (v) and (vi) that state that:

An applicant for accelerated examination with reasonable arguments may submit a reasoned request, together with a statement supporting the facts; all of the following, inter alia, may be considered reasonable justification:

(5) common good;

(6) special justifiying circumstances.

Generally patents are examined in turn so ‘first come, first served’ as per Section 9 of the Patent Law:

If more than one applicant request a patent for the same invention, he that first applied will prevail. 

The order of examination is generally on a ‘first come, first served’ basis as per Section 34a of the regulations:

34a the applications will be allocated to each internal classification group and within each classification group, will be examined in turn. 

Examination in turn both facilitates Section 9 and also ensures that relevant prior art is available to the Examiner. The first come, first served regime is itself in the public interest – See ruling re Petition to make special Israel Patent Application no. IL 216870 to Cimas Limited, 24 March 2014.

The possibility for making an application special is an exception to the general rule. It undermines the principle of first come first served, makes the examination more difficult and arguably damages the quality of the examination.  For example, a queue jumping application may be examined and allowed without realizing that an earlier filed application that was not examined challenges the novelty or inventiveness of the claims. Any fast-tracking results in other applications being delayed and is thus against the public interest.

Fast tracking risks unfairness, but the legislators allow it under circumstantes detailed in Section 19a of the Law where there is an over-riding public intereest or special circumstances. Secton 19a was legislated in the 10th amendment to the patent law that came into effect on 12 July 2012. From examination of the discussion at the committee state it is clear that the Commissioner has the discretion to explain the law. It is clear that the type of justification that is acceptable is extreme circumstances. For example: : there could be circumstances that a dramatic discovery is like an earthquake and is positive for the State of Israel. (Isaak Herzog, Knesset legislative committee discussion of 13 March 2012).

The justifications listed in Section 19a were actually those for third parties to request an application be fast-tracked but there is no reason to suppose that they are not applicable to requests by the Applicant himself. Nevertheless it appears that what the legislators intended was something of interest to the entire population as of national interest for the whole population and not for micro-economic interests of one sector or another. There is an underlying assumption of public interest in all patents. The only justification for ever granting a patent (i.e. a monopoly, albeit limited in time and geographical application) is that there is a national interest in micro-economic profits and technological progress.

No-one challenges the fact that each patent provides a different public interest depending on the type of invention and its application. There is no clear economic or social scale that can be used to rank different patents. However the same term is generally understood in the same manner in different legislation to provide coherency (see Aharon Barak, Volume 2, Legislative Interpretation, Nevo 1993 pages 313 and 321. Thus the term “common good” in Section 19a of the patent law is a priori similar to the term in Section 122 which discusses forced licenses. Section 122 states:

The Commissioner, where he comes to consider the request for a compulsory license under Section 117 should consider, inter alia:….

….

(2) the common good generally obliges that all inventions should provide the protected goods by manufacturing or import, so enable widest possible supply in the circumstances, without delay.. 

The DIstrict Court ruled in 881/94 Eli Lilly and Company vs. TEVA Pharmaceuticals LTD 25 November 1998:

In the field of patents, the common interest is the main and dominant cause for determining balances and rights. There may be a specific basis for worrying for private interest of the specific owners, and a patent an be considered as a reward that the legislators bestows on the entrepreneur. But the main justification of the patent system is the public considerations of utility and profit that affect the community taken as a whole. Whilst it is true that a patent provides protection to an individual, the existence of the right and its extent are determined by how much they fulfill the public interest. In this regard a patent is like a compulsory license. In both cases a personal right is provided to an individual but the underlying rationale for granting the rights is the common good. Just as the compulsory license is not granted for the benefit of the applicant, similarly a patent is only granted to the owners because it is in the public interest. It is not a balance between private rights and the public interest, but rather a balance between different public interests that together define the common good.

Thus the common good in this instance, as with compulsory licenses, is the result of balancing different public interests. Where the Applicant desires to depart from the general balance of interests including the principle of ‘first come first served’, the justification for jumping the queue has to be something weighty of significance to the wider public or a positive macro economic effect.

Furthermore, from when the application is filed until it eventually issues as a patent, there is nothing preventing the applicant from implementing the invention described in the patent application, enabling the public to benefit immediately. The enforcement of a patent is of economic interest to the patentee only. First tracking is not in the public interest at all. It only serves the applicant.

Without addressing the issue of patentability at all at this stage, the Commissioner does not thing that the present invention is more ‘public good’ than other inventions and, as the applicant himself testified, it serves a specific population segment only. The petition to make special did not include any economic calculation to show why it was justified.

Although the above arguments relate to the ‘public good’ they are equally applicable to the ‘special reasons justifying advancing the examination’. Consequently the application for fast-tracking is rejected and the application will be examined in turn.

Ruling by Commissioner Asa Kling Concerning Making Special Israel Patent Application Number IL 221842 to Glatt Lifts LTD., 14 June 2016 

COMMENTS

Very few inventions positively affect everyone. If something could help 10% of the population, it seems to me that it should be considered of significance, whether the population is women, AIDs sufferers, people living near the Gazan border, parents of small children or the Ultra-Orthodox. I don’t see any reason why common good should be interpreted as of value to people across the population without regard to race, age, religion, religiosity or sexual orientation.

The underlying presumption of the Applicant is that conventional elevators do more electrical work for each passenger riding in the elevator and that this is against the laws of Shabbat to rely on Shabbat settings on lists. If this assumption is true, it affects all Jews and most of Israel’s population is Jewish. Even if many Jews are not Observant, and many more are not persuaded that using currently available Shabbat lifts are not acceptable I suspect that from the Applicant’s perspective, Shabbat observance is of value and desecration is problematically regardless of the religious philosophy of the Jew in question. It may be what’s preventing the Messiah from coming. Furthermore, the State of Israel accepts the principle of Shabbat observance as being of national interest by not allowing trading on Shabbat and by not having Shabbat desecration by the Head of State, ambassadors, etc. and by requiring Shabbat observance on army bases apart from where security considerations take precedence.

For more details of the ruling (wrongly???) attributed to Rav Elyashiv, see here. See also a report in the Yeshiva World (sic) and one from the UK’s Daily Telegraph. Rabbi Yisrael Rozen’s ruling allowing both ascending and descending in Shabbat Elevators and listing what modifications are required to enable an elevator to be used on Shabbat may be found here (Tchumin 5, 75; see also article by Professor Lev in same volume, page 58).

I took the liberty of reviewing IL 221842 to Glatt Lifts LTD and its claims. If I was examining it for patentability, I would disallow it as not being enabled. It may be enabled from the perspective of the Hallachic problem it is trying to solve, but in my opinion, it does not provide a solution that enables a person of the art to go away and build a working lift without undue experimentation which is the standard for which patent applications are judged.


Swiss Military

July 15, 2016

278777

Israel Trademark Application Number 278777 is the national phase entry of International Trademark No. 1232972 filed under the Madrid Protocol. The mark is shown above.

The Application covers Watches of Swiss origin in class 14 and was submitted by Chron AG.

The Israel Trademark Department considered the mark non-registerable for two reasons. There is a registered Israel Trademark, No 88839 for “Swiss Army” for the same goods, and the mark is confusingly similar to pending Israel Trademark Application Numbers 260989 and 273129 “Swiss Military”to Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft v.d. Armasuisse Eidg. Departement für Verteidigung, Bevölkerungsschutz und Sport, for perfumes and other toiletries in class 3, but also for watches in class 14, and so the correct way to proceed is via a competing marks proceeding under Section 29. Chrono AG transferred the Application to Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft (the Swiss Army) and the section 29 objection was rendered moot, however the similarity to 88839 remained and the Applicants failed to ovecome the objection under Section 11(9) that there was a likelihood of confusion.

During the Examination, the Applicant submitted evidence to support their claims, including a letter by Mr Peter Emch, the Chief Legal Counsel to the effect that the applicant is part of the Swiss Defense Department of the Swiss Government and is the body entitled to protect military trademarks, including Swiss Army, Swiss Military and Swiss Air Force.

 

Deputy Commissioner Ms Jacqueline Bracha noted that Applicant claimed that there is a difference between Swiss Army and Swiss Military, since the term military is broader than army. The two marks look and sound different and the only commonality is the word Swiss which is a geographical adjective.

During the hearing it transpired that the word ‘military’ means ‘of or relating to the army’ and both the owner of the mark and the applicant use their terms together with the cross that is the emblem of the Swiss Federation and which further increases the likelihood of confusion.

Martin Shneider, Legal Counsel to the swiss Army submitted an affidavit stating that it is the Swiss Army who are authorized by the Swiss Government to both the pending application and the issued mark to the third-party. The third party received a license from the Swiss government to register the term SWISS ARMY for watches and knives that are made in Switzerland and conform to quality standards.

In the circumstances, Ms Bracha did not think that the consumers would be confused regarding the source of goods carrying the requested mark or the issued mark as both are essentially owned and managed by the Swiss Army. Consequently the mark is registerable.

Ruling by Ms J Bracha concerning registerability of Israel Trademark Application Number 278777 “Swiss Military by Chrono”.

COMMENT

swiss-army-knife-funny

I think that in this case, the registered owner of the Swiss Army mark 88839 (Swiss Army Brand LTD, a Delaware Corporation), should have been contacted to confirm Mr Emch’s story, and that mark should be recorded as owned by Swiss Army and exclusively licensed to Swiss Army Brand LTD.

 

 


Ful – the Broad-bean Ruling

July 15, 2016

It is generally known that the Lilliput wars were fought over which side one should crack to access the contents of soft-boiled eggs.

Zeno Eitam owns registered Israel trademarks 262406 and 258737 reproduced above.  The words mean “House of Ful (broad-beans), Tasty and Healthful Since 1952.

Apart from Iraqi Jews who have G6PD, i.e. a recessive hereditary disease, causing a lack of the glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase enzyme, Ful is a common food amongst oriental Jews. Ful has been tasty and healthful (at least for those not allergic) far longer than since 1952, but the legendary Ful outlet in Beer Sheva was apparently established back then.

The Ashkenazi clan (that’s their surname, not origin, and one assumes they are actually Mizrachi, probably Moroccan or Tunisian) filed to have the marks cancelled due to lack of use.

Yitzhak, Shalom, Yaakov, Moshe and Yoseph Ashkenazi were represented by Adv. Einat Noy Peri. On 10 May 2016 she submitted a hand-written note to the Trademark Office withdrawing her representation, however no explanation or justification was given. On 15 May 2016, the Trademark Office ruled that she could not simply withdraw, and remained the attorney-of-record until someone else is appointed, and gave her until the following day, 16 May 2016, to state whether her evidence was provided to the other side or not, but, to date, she has not complied.

On 22 May 2015, Yitzhak Ashkenazi filed to have the cancellation proceedings abandoned. As of 24 May 2016, Yitzhak Ashkenazi has been represented by Adv. Yoram Dadia.

On behalf of Mr Eitam, Adv. David Walberg (pronounced Deivid and not Dah-vid, so presumably both Ashkenazi by extraction if not in name, and probably an import from an English-speaking country) accepted the abandonment of the cancellation proceedings. He considers that Adv. Yoram Dadia should be considered as acting on behalf of all plaintiffs, and anyway, the cancellation proceedings should be thrown out since the plaintiffs requesting cancellation did not submit any evidence supporting their claims.

The Adjudicator of IP, Ms Yaara Shoshani Caspi ruled that she could not ignore the protocol of a discussion between Yitchak Ashkenazi and Ms Osnot Askenazi and Ms Bar Ashkenazi that took place on 17 April 2016 before the Been Sheva District Court Judge Ms Rachel Barkai (12737-10-15) that endorsed a compromise agreement between the parties under which the Ahkenazis would withdraw the cancellation requests in the current case.

The problem is that there is that the parties in the present case are not identical to those that were party to the case before  the District Court, and, apart from YItzhak Ashkenazi, the other parties to the trademark cancellation proceedings remains Adv. Einat Noy Peri until she manages to extricate herself from her obligations. The other plaintiffs have not agreed to have the cancellation proceedings closed, nor have they accepted Adv. Dadia as their representative. Therefore, the Court Protocol cannot be relied upon in this instance.

The question remains whether there are additional grounds for cancelling the proceedings? From reviewing the cancellation application it appears that the evidence for cancellation was submitted on a portable disk that cannot be reviewed. It is also not clear that these were provided to the mark holder. The Applicants for cancellation should be given an opportunity to provide the evidence to the court and to the mark owner in readable form.  That said, it seems pointless to order the submission of evidence in an acceptable form from plaintiffs that want to withdraw their case.

Ms Shoshani Caspi separately ordered all three lawyers, Ms Noy-Peri, Mr Dadia and Mr Walberg to inform all plaintiffs within seven days that they have 45 days to submit their evidence for cancellation in an acceptable, accessible form to the Trademark Office and to Mr Zeno Eitam or the case will be closed.

Interim ruling by Ms Yaara Shoshani-Caspi concerning cancellation proceedings against Israel trademarks 262406 and 25873 to Eitham, 6 June 2016.

 

 


Amending the Specification of an Opposed Patent Application

July 7, 2016

abbvie.png

Under Israel Law, allowed patent applications publish for opposition purposes for three months prior to issuing. If an opposition is filed, the issuance may be delayed for rather longer, if the patent issues at all.

As a general rule, the Applicant may amend ‘scribal errors’ i.e., typos in the specification and may narrow the scope of coverage of the claims, but cannot add material or widen the claims to cover something not previously within their ambit. In practice, applicants often request amendments that are allegedly permissible but which the opposer considers as somehow adding material or widening the monopoly sought. Sometimes amendments are opposed as a delaying tactic as until a patent issues, it cannot be enforced.

In the present instance, the application in question is IL 122546 to Abbvie Inc. titled “COMBINATION OF RITONAVIR AND A DRUG METABOLIZED BY CYTOCHROME P450 MONOXYGENASE AND PHARMACEUTICAL COMPOSITION COMPRISING THE SAME”, which was filed two decades ago on 28 June 1996 by Abbot Laboratories as the national phase of PCT/US1996/0011015 which itself claims priority from a US provisional application (no 60/000654) filed on 29 June 1995. The case was transferred to Abbvie in June 2013.

The case was allowed and published for opposition purposes on 31 January 2012, and on 29 April 2012 oppositions were filed by Vertex Pharmaceuticals and by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries LTD.

Abbvie petitioned to amend the claims and this interim ruling relates to the proposed amendment and examines whether it is supported and whether it is indeed a narrowing of the scope of the claims.

last minuteIn his ruling of 2 May 2016, the Commissioner Asa Kling allowed the amendments to the claims but this is an interim ruling anyway and the patent, if eventually granted, will lapse anyway 20 years from filing on 29th June 2016. This begs the question as to the point of continuing with the opposition?!

The ruling has been carefully translated and is reproduced below but I have added a break as it may not be of interest to everyone…

Read the rest of this entry »


Finally On Line

June 30, 2016

Online.jpgAfter a painful attempt to get a working smart-card digital signature, the software installed on my computer, authorization letters digitally signed to the Israel Patent Office where the links to the standard letters and forms on the Patent Office Website didn’t work, I am finally able to file Powers of Attorney and responses to office actions and to pay patent office fees on-line.

It is wonderful…

hate windows 10.jpg

Or at least would be if Windows 10 installing itself against my wishes and orders hadn’t disabled my PDF generating and scanning software. Everything has to be uploaded as PDFs and my office computer is not cooperating. I have had my colleagues convert word files and scan things for me. I’ve done it myself at home on my home computer. I will try reinstalling software from the disks next week and have asked my 16-year-old geeky son who is doing a computer degree in parallel to high school to come in after his final exam and configure everything properly.

computer mouse trap.jpg

I would also like a side bar on the screen and maybe to teach the system that I don’t have a touch screen and do use a regular mouse so maybe it will start behaving as it used it and should. It would also be nice if I could restore the Control+V function to paste things I’ve cut.

 

What-Not-to-Say-in-a-Cover-LetterOne odd thing: On paying a renewal for a patent on-line, I typed in the file number and it told me how much to pay. I don’t need to print out the payment slip and send it with a covering letter manually to the Israel Patent Office as I had to until very recently. But why oh why does the system want me to upload a covering letter for the payment?

,


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 792 other followers