On the 15 October 2009, a round table was held between representatives of the patent practitioner professions and relevant staff of the Israel Patent Office.
Patent Attorney Ehud Hausman took the initiative and worked for 2 years to organize the round table, at which he presented a lecture demonstrating the problems he sees with the current Israel Patent Office practice regarding computer patents, particularly software patents.
Udi together with Michal Hackmey represented the Association of Israel Patent Attorneys. Dr. Kfir Luzzatto and Heidi Brun were also present, presumably as representatives of the AIPPI, as were representatives of the IP section of the Israel Bar. More importantly, the relevant personnel of the Israel Patent Office, both examiners, the Commissioner of Patents and legal experts were present.
After the event, some members of the AIPA (those lucky enough to be on the mailing list) were sent a Power Point of Hausman’s presentation, which seemed remarkably well put together, and must have been a lot of work. He is thus commended for his initiative.
Briefly, in the past, the Commissioner of Patents has expressed the position that software is protectable by copyright and that it is therefore not patentable by the doctrine of double patenting.
Additionally, software per se. is not considered technical, unless there is a technical effect.
As I have explained in this blog in earlier articles, I consider the copyright double protection idea is problematic since copyright protects the embodiment of the idea and not the idea itself. Why shouldn’t a software invention be protectable against reengineering? Is a 70 year protection against copying of any value in a field where a generation is usually 2 years? Considering software not technical is ridiculous. software is rightly considered an engineering discipline. Since algorithms can be hard-wired into chips or by a machine with valves, the concept of software being different from hardware is somewhat arbitrary. Nevertheless, Lord Justice Jacobs has presented powerful arguments as to why software patents are not in the interest of promoting progress and there is a large open-source community.
The issues are somewhat complicated, and this is not the place to give a full overview of software patenting. However, the issue is a critical one, since Israel is a leading player in software development. We congratulate the organizers on this initiative and hope that the patent office will reconsider their policy and issue clear guidelines.
Nevertheless, I would be happier if Hausman had first presented his lecture to the AIPA at a meeting opened to the members. From reviewing the PowerPoint, I am that many practitioners would have found his lecture interesting. Particularly as many leading Israeli patent attorneys drafting computer applications rarely file and prosecute in Israel. I am sure that quality lectures of the AIPA would lead to high levels of registration. Furthermore, it would be nice if lobbying on behalf of the profession was done by the representative body after giving members the opportunity to express their views.