Following a practice initiated by his predecessor, Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks, Assa Kling, met with representatives of the Israel Association of Patent Attorneys, the Israel Branch of the AIPPI, the IP group of the Israel Bar, the Licensing Executive Society (LES) and the International Federation of Intellectual Property Attorneys (FICPI) in a round table discussion.
Several issues were dealt with and minutes of the meeting were made available by Adv. Tal Band, the head of the AIPPI. This reprot is based on those minutes.
Appropriately, the tragic and sudden loss of the Head of the Trademark Department, the late Ms Nurit Maoz was the first issue raised. Her achievements were acknowledged and patience was requested from the profession for the invitable delays that have and will occur until the department is able to reorganize itself and move forward.
I discovered that the Israel Association of Patent Attorneys is no longer headed by Ms Michal Hackmey alone, but now has a co-chairperson, Ronny Shutrut. Despite being a member of good standing in the organization, I didn’t hear about this decision from the organization itself. His appointment doesn’t seem to have been an election. At the last general election, several of the large firms voted on behalf of all workers by proxy, despite there being nothing in the constitution to allow this, and despite those voting in absentia not knowing who would be standing for office. There was, however, a facade of democracy. this appointment seems to have been made without even directly informing the members, which is less than satisfactory.
Another unsatisfactory aspect of this is that both co-chairpeople work for the same firm. Funnily enough, the chairperson of the FICPI (Ina Pugasch) is a further employee of the Reinhold Cohn IP group.
We assume that RCIP, as Israel’s largest IP practice (excluding the patent office and TEVA) is big enough to take care of its interests. Since the Commissioner himself, worked there until his appointment earlier this year, I suspect that the firm is reasonably capable of getting his ear if necessary.
The question is whether the present set up serves the interests of practitioners not working for RCIP, including the very large number of sole-practitioners whose needs and perhaps that of their client base may be very different to that of the Reinhold Cohen group.
Ms Michal Hackmey did request that members submit issues to her, for raising at these important meetings. Unfortunately, however, her priorities in deciding which issues to raise, will invariably reflect her perspective and practice. I raised two issues with her and asked them to be brought up. I requested that the current practice of examination of independent claims only be raised as it extends prosecution and incurs unneccessary expense to clients. I also raised the issue of apparent illegality of the committees that orally examine candidate patent attorneys. The first issue was apparently not raised but the second issue was discussed, but after the furore raised in responses to this blog and the like, presumably could not be ignored.
If all the people representing the private sector at these round tables come from 2 or 3 large firms, does this promote the interests of the profession as a whole? Not sure. We wonder, therefore, whether the roundtable really serves its purpose to provide a channel of communication between the profession (as a whole), and the Patent Office.
One interesting insight was that the Commissioner of Patents noted that various issues including amending the law regarding examining patent attorneys was not within his bailiwick and he had no authority in such matters. We note that this more humble approach contrasts to that taken by his predecessor, who sometimes exceeded his authority when trying to straighten out archaic practices. Substantively, if not formally, Dr Noam’s reforms were generally both correct and filled needs, despite the rap he took from the Knesset committee for exceeding his authority and ignoring the letter of the law.
It seems from the sentiments reported in the summary of this first round table, that Commissioner Kling will be conservative in how he pursues his reforms.