Presumably following a dismal showing at the last exam sitting, the Israel Commissioner of Patents, Dr. Meir Noam, has published a Circular to further regulate standards and training for new patent attorneys.
The law requires an Israel Patent Attorney to have a science or engineering degree, to train for two years under someone licensed for at least three years, to show proficiency in English and Hebrew and to pass written and oral examinations. There was a lacuna in the Law, under which it was not clear that candidates had to finish the degree prior to starting internship, or to have finished some or all the two year internship prior to sitting the exams. This lead to a state of affairs where candidates tried the exams before being ready for them to get experience in what was required, which has lead to low pass rates and a waste of examiner’s time.
Although Dr. Noam’s circular is generally welcome to maintain or raise standards and to protect the public, I am not sure that the proposed changes are within his authority. They are by their nature, regulations that I believe should be passed by the Minister of Justice and not by the Commissioner of Patents, however well meaning. I don’t think the Examiner of Patents can simply change the rules from long established custom merely because that changes are required.
Under Former Chief Justice Barak’s interpretation of the Basic Law -Freedom of Employment, it would appear that government functionaries cannot simply impose their own rules. The current Minister of Justice does not seem to shy from bringing about much needed reforms, and I think it would be in everyone’s interest for the proposed changes to be introduced properly.