New Israel Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks Appointed

Ofir AlonThe Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaqued has appointed Attorney and Patent Attorney Ofir Alon as the new Israel Commissioner of Patents, Trademarks and Designs to replace Commssioner Asa Kling who is coming to the end of his six year tenure.

Ofer Alon has degrees in Computer Science and Law from Haifa University. He qualified in IP Law in the Law Offices of Richard Luthi where he worked until 2006 and then became the IP Director and In-House Counsel of “On Track innovations”. Since 2010, Adv Alon has served as the head of Intellectual Property for the Technion’s R&D Tech Transfer Company.

The appointment follows the advice of the Committee for Finding a Suitable Candidate that was headed by Ms Ami Palmor, Director of the Ministry of Justice. Other committee members include Ilan Ram the Director of the Senior Civil Servants Organization, the Chief Scientist Avi Hasson, Professor Orit Fishman Afori – Dean of the Law School of Michlelet Minhal and Academic Representative and Retired Justice Izaak Engelhard serving as the public representative (which seems innappropriate to me – judges can represent the judiciary. The public is best represented by the layman. Maybe in this instance, a local serial inventor?).

According to the press-release, the committee were impressed with his developed views and vision regarding the Patent Office, its activities and its challenges, and with his plans for its international activities.

Comment

We note that with the appointment of Outgoing Commissioner Asa Kling the make up of the committee remained confidential. This led to rumours of cronyism between the judge allegedly chairing the committee and Judge Kling, the commissioner’s father. I cannot comment on whether these rulings were well-founded or baseless, but was very impressed with the outgoing commissioner’s rulings.

In this instance, the identity of the committee members has been published. We see this as a welcome step towards greater transparency. We are pleased that the committee were impressed with Adv Alon’s plans, however the press-releases do not explain what these plans are. We also do not know whether any other candidates were considered and if so, who the other candidates were. What was clear was that the published advertisements in the newspapers gave very short deadlines from responding, raising suspicions that this was a political appointment. A candidate with vision and proven management skills seems a very good idea. He will however also require judicial competence.

Mover-and-Shaker Kim Lindy claims to have helped Ofir Alon receive his appointment to the Technion Tech Transfer Company. However, she denies having influenced his appointment as commissioner.

In general, I am impressed with Minister Shaqued’s judicial appointments and her attempts to broaden the Supreme Bench to be more representative and heterogeneous. I also think the Commissioner should be more or less formalistic in his approach to IP rulings. That said, I have no ideas what Ofir Alon’s views are regarding IP issues or indeed, on other legal or political issues.

under the watch of the last two commissioners the Israel Patent Office has been revolutionized, and it is now fully computerized. There is pending legislation concerning designs, and proposed legislation to put the profession of patent attorneys onto a stronger legal footing. The patent office is now a profit generating, efficient and professional body. We wish the new commissioner luck and hope he takes the organization forwards to new heights.

 

3 Responses to New Israel Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks Appointed

  1. Cynical Cyrus says:

    The appointment of Asa Kling *was* a political appointment, in the sense that certain interested parties saw to it that he was appointed; so apparently was the present one. There were better-qualified candidates than Mr. Kling six years ago, and there were better-qualified candidates this time. Like Asa Kling, Ofir Alon has no actual experience as a practicing patent attorney, never having served in a position in which he personally drafted and prosecuted patent applications on a daily basis. His experience is primarily as an in-house patent manager, a position that in Israel is often filled by people who lack a deep understanding of IP strategies or the patenting process.

    Mr. Kling is due to step down within approximately two months. Had the appointments committee that made the recommendation to Ms. Shaked truly been interested in finding the best candidate, it would have published the tender for the position early (say last September) and left the the tender open for several months. Instead it published the tender near the beginning of February and left it open for a mere two weeks. This suggests that the appointment was rigged and the process of soliciting candidates was purely pro forma, to give cover to the fix. Additionally, no one on the appointments committee had significant IP experience, nor does it appear that any of them understand of what the Israel Patent Office does. In the case of the retired judge, one has to ask if this 83-year-old still has all his faculties.

    It is possible that Mr. Alon will do a good job in his new position. For the sake of users of the Israel patent, trademark and design systems, as well as for the employees of the Israel Patent Office, who it is rumored have suffered under Mr. Kling, we can only hope that is what the future holds in store.

    • “You might think that; I couldn’t possibly comment,” as scheming politician Francis Urquhart, played by Richardson in the 1990 television thriller House of Cards used to say.

      (I am referring to the UK series, which was excellent).

  2. Erez Gur says:

    I met Ofir Alon only once may years ago, so have no knowledge about his abilities one way or the other.

    It is certainly interesting to see a Registrar with a presumably different perspective from the past: Noam was the owner/manager of a boutique patent attorney firm, Kling worked in a large IP firm, and now Alon is a representative of the main “clients” of the Patent Office, the Tech Transfer offices.

    I certainly agree with you that the way Alon was chosen isn’t optimal. Knowing the names of the committee members is extremely important, but it would be better if the identity of alternative candidates had been published, and there should have been an opportunity for the public to submit their comments before a final decision is made.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: