From June 1, 2012, the Israel Patent Authority will provide International Search Reports (ISR) and International Preliminary Examination Reports (IPER) of PCT applications.
Initially, the service will be available to Israeli applicants and will be charged at a lower rate than the rates charged by the search and preliminary examination of PCT applications by the United States Patent Office (USPTO) and the European Patent Office (EPO) – both of which may currently be selected by Israeli applicants.
In this regard, the Israel Patent Authority joins an elite group of 14 patent offices (the USPTO, EPO, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Canada, Finland, Sweden, Brazil, Austria, the Nordic nations (Norway, Denmark and Iceland) and Spain.
Israel is an intensive user of the PCT system, currently filing about 1000 PCT applications a year. In 2011, Israel ranked 15th worldwide in terms of absolute numbers of PCT applications filed. When the figures are normalized by population, Israel is a clear leader.
This development follows an intense training period of the examiners, and the Israel Patent Agency providing ISR style searches and IPER style examinations of applications first examined in Israel. It also follows the recruitment of Examiners, since to be considered, a patent office has to have at least 100 examiners. Unfortunately, the option of collaborating with the patent offices of neighboring countries, as the Nordic nations did, is not currently a realistic prospect for Israel.
Israel was accepted as a candidate International Search Authority by WIPO in 2009. Egypt was accepted at the same time. However, as with the Indian Patent Office which was accepted in 2007, to date, has not organized itself appropriately. It is not clear when the Egyptian Patent Office will be ready to provide searches.
Under binational agreements and patent super-highways, it is expected that the Israel Patent Office will provide services as a sub-contractor to other patent offices in due course.
I congratulate Commissioner Asa Kling, the Executive Director of the Department of Justice, Dr Guy Rotkopf, and all the Examiners and support staff at the Israel Patent Office and Ms Li Maor at WIPO, for making this happen. The previous Israel Commissioner of Patents & Trademarks, Dr Meir Noam, also deserves a special mention as this is the culmination of his hard groundwork and vision.
Between them, Israeli examiners are fluent in a wide range of languages, including Hebrew, English, Arabic, Russian and the main European langauges. There is, therefore, every likelihood that the ISRs and IPERs they will produce will be performed to a high standard.
One of my pet gripes about Israel patent examinations is that Israel patent examiners typically only examine the independent claims. I hope that, since they will be searching and examining the first claimed invention in PCT applications, they will start examining the dependent claims as well, as this will speed up Examination.