Having reached the magic number of 100 examiners, the Israel Patent Office has, according to Maariv Newspaper’s website, applied to join the exclusive list of International Search Authorities. The request will be considered by the UN in September.
The list of international patent offices includes the EPO, USPTO, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Canadian and Australian patent offices, and a collaboration of Nordic patent offices.
Apparently the Egyptian Patent Office is also looking to join the exclusive club. Since Arabic is a recognized official UN language there is certainly a need for an Arabic search authority despite the relatively small numbers of patents filed in Arabic and originating in Arabic speaking lands. Israel has a diverse population speaking many languages and there are a lot of Arab science and technology graduates from Israeli universities.
Whether or not Egypt gets the job, one wonders if Arab patent offices will elect to send applications to Israel. At present, Israeli examiners are probably less competent at searching than their EPO or USPTO counterparts. This will presumably change if they are required to do first searches more often.
At present, Israeli PCT applicants can chose between the EPO or the USPTO for searching. Recently the USPTO have got much better and more efficient at meeting deadlines. It is not clear if Israel gets ISR status, whether Applicants will be able to choose the USPTO or EPO as the International Search Authority – ISR.
On the other hand, it is relatively easy for Israeli inventors to accelerate examination in Israel. Until now, an Israel Patent Office substantive examination was not generally highly regarded and many applicants preferred to invoke section 17c of the Israel Patent Law and get an Israeli application allowed based on a patent issuing elsewhere in any of a large number of patent offices with appropriate examination standard. Presumably Israel examination standards will improve if this initiative goes through.
Another ramification is that Israeli inventors may presumably choose to file in Arabic which is an official Israeli language and UN language. this will enable to go international via the PCT mechanism, but still keeping their inventions effectively secret as Arabic language applications are not generally monitored.
If this happens in large numbers, I suppose I will be out of a job as I draft in English…