Cyber-bullying in the Israel Patent Profession

cyber-bullying-poster

There are trends in naming patent firms, as with everything else. Sometimes, the names of the senior partners are used. When this become too long, the firm switches to an acronym. so Pearl Cohen-Zedek Latzer became PCZ”L. When they merged with a firm called Baratz, they switched to Pearl-Cohen as the acronym was a little too long.

There was a trend a while ago when firms switched to acronyms for no apparent reason. Reinhold Cohen started using the acronym RCIP, Jeremy Ben-David started using JMB, and Colb started using STC. (Confusingly, most Korean patent attorneys, and presumably a lot of Koreans who are not patent attorneys, seem to be called Lee or Kim. There is a Canadian firm called Smarter & Biggar which is at least memorable. A US firm called Nutter’s is named after a founding partner. Another founding partner was Louis Brandeis. Why they preferred the name Nutter is anyone’s guess, but I digress).

Using one’s name to trade under and as an email domain is not without the possibility of confusion. In Israel, there is a patent attorney with an independent practice called Friedman but there is also a Freiman. There are a number of Cohens practicing IP Law and possibly practicing for their hereditary Priestly duties. These include the current generation of the Reinhhold Cohen dynasty, Dr Shlomo Cohen and several others. There are at least two pairs of divorced patent attorneys where each side is entitled to continue using the name they’ve been working under and they do. There are also mothers and daughters having the same initial and family name, who each provide IP services via different firms. These practices may lead to confusion, but each party is generally considered as acting in good faith and is entitled to continue using their name.

With websites, there seem to be two trends in Israel. One trend is to use one’s own name as the basis of the domain. The other is to use a generic IP website, such as patent, trademarks, IP, and to add Israel, or I, so there is an ipatent, israel-patent, -i-copyright, , etc. or using bezeq, Israel’s phone service as the domain name, an email such as patent@bezeq, etc.

In my opinion, anyone who uses the surname Cohen on a daily basis, is entitled to use the term cohen as part of his email address. I don’t think he needs to prove that he is indeed of the priestly caste. Similarly Dr Gal Ehrlich may use his hereditary surname Ehrlich, which means honest. It is not an indication of honesty. It is merely a hereditary surname.

Terms and letters such as Israel, ‘i’ for Israel, ip, and words such as Israel, patent, trademark, copyright, are all available for any practitioner to use.

As I am interested in people coming to ME for my expertise, and don’t consider myself another flavor of 3% milk or sliced white bread, I use the name factor, although I have added the letters ip to remind people what I do.  I realize that I cannot prevent other Factors from using the name Factor, nor do I have a monopoly on ip. When the UK Patent Office launched a blog called “ipfacto” I was a little put out, as the IP Factor has been around for a decade and logged up hundreds of thousands of hits. However, I didn’t seriously contemplate legal action, despite the fact that it wasn’t just the IP or the Factor, but the combination that was copied, which does create a likelihood of confusion. There is a US patent agent active in Israel called Haim Factor. As far as we know, he is not related to me. It would be nice to stop him calling himself Factor as it might confuse clients, but he is as entitled to the name as I am. I suppose this is why we have both personal names and family names.

Recently, Advocate Meir Dahan started offering electronic filing under the name epatent.  Dahan was using epatent.co.il as a website for his services. Ehrlich & Fenster use ipatent.co.il. Dahan’s email to associates gives his name as Meir Dahan very clearly. The source of the services offered was clear. It is not confusing. As an attorney-at-law, he is entitled to provide patent services. His prices are rather low, but he is entitled to set his fees at whatever value he feels is appropriate to his level of service and competence.

Nevertheless Dr Gal Ehrlich of Ehlich & Fenster sent letters to their contacts informing them that there was no connection between Dahan and their firm and announced that they had initiated legal action against him. Dahan was using epatent.co.il as a website for his services. Ehlich & Fenster use ipatent.co.il. It seems that Ehrlich & Fenster consider that ipatent is not a generic name but one that since they’ve appropriated it, they now have rights in this non-registered trademark which has acquired distinctiveness.  I find this development distasteful to the extreme.

Dahan’s letter to associates is reproduced below, as is Ehrlich’s letter.

Dear Sir/Madam

Meir Dahan Patent Law Firm specializes in filing patent applications in ISRAEL as a national phase service for foreign colleagues.

We noticed from WIPO publications that your firm represents applicants of PCT applications.

For your information, we provide you with the costs of filing and prosecuting patent applications in ISRAEL, as follows:

TABLE DELETED

Should you require further information about the detailed cost and services, we will be happy to provide such to you immediately upon request.

If you prefer not to receive similar notices from us in the future, please reply with Unsubscribe in the subject line.

We hope the above information has been helpful and we look forward to serving your intellectual property interests in ISRAEL.

Thank you for your attention.

Best regards,

Olga Lurie, Office manager 

Meir Dahan, Advocate

Ehrlich’s letter is as follows:

Dear Clients and Colleagues, 

Recently, it has been brought to our attention that several of our colleagues may have been contacted via emails from “Meir Dahan Patent Law Firm” with a solicitation offer to file National Phase applications in Israel.  The Dahan firm is using the domain name “epatent.co.il“, which is disturbingly and confusingly similar to our domain name “ipatent. co. il”

Due to complaints received in this regard from several associates around the world, we would like to clarify the following:

The Dahan Law Firm has no connection whatsoever with our firm, and we were unaware of its emails until just recently.

As soon as we became aware of the above, we immediately initiated legal actions to have the Dahan Law Firm cease using the “epatent.co.il” domain name which is confusingly similar to ours.

We regret any inconvenience caused you by these solicitation emails, none of which were initiated by, or related to, our firm.

So as to end this message on a positive note, kindly please find attached our latest newsletter discussing an Israeli judicial decision, entitled Patent Eligibility of Software-Related Inventions in Israel.  This landmark decision was a result of a successful appeal undertaken by our office.

Very truly yours

Dr. Gal Ehrlich, Patent Attorney

I’ve discussed this case with a leading trademark expert who doesn’t think that Dahan’s behavior is actionable in a court of law or under ICANN

Actually, Ehrlich did at one time try to obtain Israel trademark no. 241700 for ipatent. The mark was for Intellectual property software; all included in class 9, for Providing a website featuring information and rendering services in the field of Intellectual Property; information and professional services in the field of intellectual property ; all included in class 42, and for Intellectual property consultancy and services related thereto; all included in class 45.  However, the application was cancelled and abandoned in June 2014.

From official Patent Office figures it appears that the total number of incoming patent cases into Israel appears to be shrinking. I hope that this recent distasteful development is not indicative of what we can expect as ever more competing practitioners fight for larger slices of a smaller cake.

3 Responses to Cyber-bullying in the Israel Patent Profession

  1. Harold Burstyn says:

    Why do you consistently misspell Reinhold Cohn’s surname?

    The Boston firm now known as Nutter, McLennen & Fish began as Warren and Brandeis. It then became Brandeis, Dunbar & Nutter. U. S. firms stopped changing their names many years ago.

  2. Jack B. Nimble says:

    Cynics might say that Ehrlich used Dahan’s letter as an excuse to send unsolicited advertising to potential clients. It would be interesting for the Israel Patent Attorney community to know whether or not Ehrlich contravened the Patent Attorney ethics code with this solicitation.

    Even more cynical cynics would point out that since it is clear that a lawsuit against Dahan’s use of “epatent” is vexatious and would end up with Ehrlich paying Dahan costs and/or damages, it would be interesting to know whether a law suit was actually filed or whether the “threat” is a PR trick.

  3. Thanks for finally writing about >Cyber-bullying in the Israel Patent Profession | The IP
    Factor <Liked it!

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