The Israel Patent Office has published its annual report which now runs to an impressive 103 pages, albeit several of which are blank. Following the flying origami themes of previous years, the graphic illustration is a flapping bird. This is more challenging than the paper dart, but avid followers of these reports will have had more practice folding paper, and, indeed, those that print out the report will have more paper to fold.
According to the report last year there was a drop in patent filings into Israel, an increase in design filings, and an increase in trademark filings. However, due to the Madrid Protocol, there is an overall drop in routine filing and prosecution work from abroad for trademark attorneys.
There wass a general rise in the number of legal proceedings before the Israel Patent Office in all three categories, and the number of contentious issues are at their highest level since at least 2013.
Since the number of PCT patent filings exceeds the number of applications first filed in Israel, it is clear that the number of locally filed patent applications is not an accurate representation of the amount of locally generated work.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the document is the new section on patent office personnel.
Perhaps not surprisingly, 93% of Israel Patent Office staff have academic degrees. Of these, 50% have masters’ degrees and 13.5% have PhDs. 59% of staff are women and 41% are men. We attribute this to the longer holidays and easier hours of the public sector. As a government agency, there is affirmative action to recruit those under-represented. Whilst 90% of staff are Jewish, 6.9% are Muslim, 1.6% are Christian and 0.5% are Druze. In all 15 members of staff are from ethnic minorities, and a further 3 are Ethiopian and 1 employee is disabled.
78% of staff are between 31 and 50. However, only 7% are under 30, whereas 9% are over 70, with 5% being 71-80, 3% being 81-90 and 1% being over 90!
Over the past decade, there is a slight drop in direct trademark filings and a rise in Madrid applications designating Israel. With 9308 trademark filings in total, 2016 was a worse year than 2015, but is fairly similar to 2013-2015, between than 2009 to 2012, but not yet back at 2007-2008 levels. However, these numbers are lower than would otherwise be, since from 2010 multi-class applications have been possible. Thus Israel is not less popular a destination, but there is less work for attorneys in the field, and 2016 certainly had fewer filings than 2015.
Of the marks filed in Israel, a steady 25% is by Israeli companies and about 75% are by foreign companies
There is a small increase in the number of Madrid international trademark applications by Israeli companies in 2016 (287) compared to last year (252).
As far as patents are concerned, there were 6425 applications filed in Israel in 2016, which is down on 2015 (6904), but better than 2013 and 2014 with 6184 and 6273 respectively. Looking at the past decade, there is certainly a drop in the number of incoming applications. Only some 804 applications of these are first filed in Israel, with 5621 coming in from abroad. Despite the number of Israel applications being the lowest in the past decade, the Official Report considers this stable, noting a drop in 8% in incoming filings.
The number of patents granted has been steadily increasing however.
The various fast track mechanisms are being used, with PPH being the most popular, followed by petitioning to make special and then green applications.
In general, the patent prosecution process is more efficient, with shorter queue times before first office action and between office actions.
There are more PCT applications filed in Israel than direct applications. This seems to indicate that despite the America Invents Act wiping out most of the advantages of first filing US provisional applications, and the reduced filing fee for private individuals, Israelis still prefer US provisionals. However, I seem to be filing PCT applications without priority claims more often and others may be doing so as well. Israelis are the most popular direct filers in Geneva.
PCT filings in Israel can elect Israel, US or Europe as the International Search Authority. Overwhelmingly, and with a steady increase each year since 2012 when it was introduced, Israelis are electing the Israel Patent Office. There has also been a steady increase in US Applicants that are electing to have their PCT applications examined in Israel.
Designs are popular means for protecting car parts, extrusions, light fittings, and jewelry. 2016 saw 1866 design applications submitted in Israel, which is the highest number over the past decade. 67% of these are by Israeli applicants, so it seems that the noise regarding proposed new legislation has had some impact.