Patent oppositions proceedings in Israel follow a set path.
the Opposer(s) file their statement of case. The Applicant responds, and the opposer submits evidence. Evidence should be submitted at the first opportunity, and applicants are not allowed to submit further evidence at a later stage, to prevent cases being unnecessarily dragged out.
It happens, however, that evidence may sometimes not be submitted at the first opportunity as the applicant or opponent does not consider it relevant. The statement of witnesses brought by opposing counsel may make it relevant and necessary to add such evidence at a later stage. The Israel Patent Office regulations enable such late submissions, if there is a prima facie basis for determining that the evidence was not submitted earlier, not in order to drag out proceedings, but because either the evidence was not known to its presenter at an earlier date, or because the presenter was unaware of its relevance which only became clear due to statements made by the opposing counsel.
Israel Patent Application No. 122546 to Abbott was published for opposition purposes on 31 December 2012. On 29th April 2012, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. filed oppositions.
In response to the oppositions, the applicant requested to correct the specification. In Israel it is legitimate to correct the specification at this stage provided that such corrections are in no way widening of the requested monopoly.
Opposers opposed the request to amend the specification on legal grounds and thus did not submit evidence. Abbott’s witness argued scientific grounds for allowing the amendment, and so Opposers requested permission to submit evidence against this request. Abbott’s counsel argued that it was too late to submit such evidence and that the Opposers were widening the grounds for opposition.
The topic in question relates to whether the 3A4 enzyme is an example of the P450 family of enzymes.
In his ruling, Commissioner Adv. Assa Kling ruled that there were no sweeping grounds to forbid submission of evidence and on weighing it up, he would see whether the evidence was indeed submitted in response to Abbott’s witness, or if there was indeed, evidence that opposers were filing evidence as a delaying tactic or to widen the scope of the opposition. He noted that he could award costs to one side or the other when ruling costs on the amendment to the claims.
I think the patent office is taking the correct approach here. the rules for submitting evidence are there to prevent abuse. If the applicant is claiming abuse, he has to support his case.