I missed the AGM of the IPAA (Israel Patent Attorney Association) yesterday. I would have gone to the meeting when originally scheduled, but the last-minute cancellation and rescheduling at short notice was inconvenient.
I was attending a couple of Master Class sessions at the IPR best practices conference Tuesday morning. I could have hung around in Tel Aviv for the AGM, but, after INTA, had a lot of work backlogged. I also had a family wedding up North in the evening.
I understand that there are about 200 registered members of the organization, of whom 15 turned up. No doubt, some of the others, like me, had previous engagements. Others simply could not be bothered to attend, what was, at best, a waste of time. The votes were carried by a large majority of 40 or so, since proxy voting is allowed. Thus Reinhold Cohen as a firm, set the agenda, and with only 2-3 members of that firm turning up either, there wasn’t much point in making impassioned speeches to influence the voting, as the voters weren’t present anyway.
In the recent past, I have suggested the organization files an amicus brief in support of Colb’s anticipated appeal against the Israel Patent Office decision that without computer docketing, one is guilty of lack of due care. I spoke to Einav the day before the AGM and sent her the ruling and my comments. However, this suggestion was not discussed. But then again, apparently nothing of substance was.
There has been no attempt to find out why most licensed patent attorneys do not pay subscriptions and those that do, still do not attend the meetings.
On Monday, I spotted Einav, our esteemed co-opted chairperson, chatting at length with a non-licensed practitioner at the Best Practices Conference. I do not know what her position is regarding someone who ‘manages’ patent strategy and portfolios for clients, i.e. not an in-house employee but a service provider. The person in question describes himself as being a paralegal. He does not write patent applications. He may be good at what he does, however, there is a world of difference between working under supervision of a licensed attorney-at-law or a licensed patent attorney and taking the lead in managing cases where one cannot qualify as either, not having the basic qualification of a law degree or a science degree required to then work in house and pass professional exams. If such a
cowboy non-licensed practitioner makes a mistake, it may affect the insurance premiums across the industry. He presumably does not have insurance, not being a professional.
There are previously licensed US patent attorneys and patent agents who have surrendered their licenses pending disciplinary action, who are offering services in Israel. Their CVs, websites and Facebook pages are less than unambiguous as to their status. They do not come under the oversight of the Israel Patent Office disciplinary committee. There is also a felon wanted by the FBI who is working for one of the Israeli firms.
At the other end of the spectrum are US firms that have opened offices here and work with Israeli industry and start-ups directly. The legality of this is not clear. Where the in-house counsel of the client is a patent attorney or lawyer, there is someone in the picture who knows the law regarding where applications must first be filed locally, Israel labour law regarding employees, and the like. This is however, often not the case. The code of ethics of the IPAA relates to making derogatory comments regarding other Israel Patent Attorneys. However, I have heard from Israeli practitioners that at least one prominent US firm with a large presence in Israel does not see itself bound in this regard.
I thik that the IPAA should relate to these issues. It is not. What the IPAA is doing, at present, is helping finance IP events organized by other bodies, such as the AIPPI. This may get IPAA committee members onto panels and chairing sessions, but I would argue that this is misuse of membership funds. The IPAA could usefully subsidize paid up members attending training events put on by others, including the IPR conference for example, but why use members’ subscription fees to pay for non-patent attorneys to be trained? How does this help Israel Patent Attorneys?
Note, I am not against patent attorneys training prospective or actual clients, running sessions for attorneys at law, or sponsoring such conferences. I contribute myself. This blog is primarily a vehicle for education that is open to all readers, professional or otherwise. What I object to is the use of the Association’s funds for this purpose.