The Patentscope Seminar is to be held on 20th and 21st of July 2010. 20th July 2010 is Tisha B’Av, the fast instituted two thousand years ago to remember and mourn the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem.
Legend has it that the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, passed a Parisian synagogue on Tisha B’Av and heard the sounds of mourning and crying. On enquiring what the fuss was about, “What’s this all about, he learned that the Jews were in mourning the loss of their Temple. “When did this happen?” Napoleon asked. “About 1700 years ago.” was the answer he received, prompting Napoleon to note that a people who has mourned the loss of their Temple for so long, will merit to see it rebuilt.
In the Modern State, the Fast of Av is an optional holiday, that workers can choose to take as holiday; the other options being 1 May – the Marxist favourite and Idel Fitteh, the Moslem holiday that finishes the Fast of Ramadan.
Places of entertainment such as theatres, restaurants and cinemas are closed, but many workplaces are open.
Is it appropriate for the seminar to be held that day? I think such a seminar is more like work than entertainment and Tisha B’Av is an optional work day. Personally I think that making the second day (21 July 2010) available for all those observing the Fast of Av is a reasonable compromise and the profession will be able to vote with its feet.
It is, however, unfortunate that the issue wasn’t raised earlier. I imagine an alternative two days could have been arranged with WIPO. Also, how can we complain that the AIPPI held their conference over Simchat Torah last year if the Israel Patent Office is equally insensitive? In some respects it’s like the Israel football team playing on Rosh HaShannah.
Perhaps a suitable gesture would be to not provide refreshments on the fast day?
I hope that other firms will let attorneys take tisha B’Av off as a day of optional holiday, and let them attend the seminar without creating a fuss.
Let us hope that by next year, the issue will be moot.