According to the report, the Israel Patent Agency successfully completed the examination of more patent and trademark applications in 2011 than in previous years.
The number of new patent applications filed is slightly down. The number of trademark applications filed is slightly up, but now about half the trademark applications filed are being filed via the Madrid Protocol, so there is less work for local trademark attorneys to do.
As a precondition for Israel to become an International Search Authority, it was required to have at least 100 patent examiners. As of December 2011, there were 101 examiners and trainees.
The report included a nice obituary for Ms Nurit Maoz, who was head of the trademark department prior to her untimely death.
There were some odd sections to the report. For example, in an anonymous survey of client satisfaction, the Israel Patent Agency scored a high 4 or 5 across the board. It is not clear whether these are marks out of 5, out of 10, or some other number. Also not stated is how many patent attorneys and lawyers were surveyed and how many bothered to respond.
On the whole though, the report was clear and comprehensive, and held few surprises in terms of numbers of patent, design and trademark applications filed, their breakdown into countries of origin and technologies to be protected.
What did surprise me is that the number of new applications first filed in Israel was down to 995, which is the lowest for a decade. It is not clear if this indicates a dropping off in patenting activity by Israeli applicants, or if they are tending more and more to first file provisional applications in the US. There were some 5,891 national phase entries from abroad, also down from last year, but less dramatically.
Another odd statistic is that modified examination under Section 17c of the law was apparently applied in 514 cases for patents relating to mechanical, electronic, computing and medical devices, but only applied in 198 cases for chemistry and 113 cases for biotechnology. This may indicate that pharma applicants remain reticent about invoking section 17c as it has not been discussed by the courts. Without an indication of what percentage of applications in each of these categories were examined substantively and which were examined under Section 17c, it is difficult to draw conclusions.
It seems that there is a significant increase in the number of applicants that have requested accelerated examination. What is not clear, is whether these are first-time filers considering filing PCT applications or directly filing abroad and taking advantage of the enhanced abilities of the Israeli examiners, or whether this reflects a growing (perceived) importance in having an Israeli issued patent.
For reasons not explained, in addition to the ubiquitous bar charts, the graphical image used to illustrate the report was a paper dart. It is not clear to me what this symbolizes. I didn’t print out the report, but reviewed as a PDF on my computer screen, and suspect that the more diligent of my colleagues did the same. The Israel Patent Agency is largely paperless and so the choice of this graphic seems an odd one.
The report may be found here