As discussed previously https://blog.ipfactor.co.il/2019/04/03/association-israel-pepperoni-pizza-iniquity/, at the last AIPPI meeting which was an AGM with lectures as well, the AGM bit didn’t take place due to lack of a quorum. Indeed, a grand total of 15 members turned up, including the president Nachman Cohen Tzedek, the treasurer Eyal Bressler and the General Secretary Eran Bareket. A minimum of 35 was needed to hold elections, so we assume the elections took place a week later, once again in the basement auditorium of Reinhold Cohn IP group, and if the elections were not exactly representative of the actual or potential membership, no doubt the right people got voted in again.
I will also not dwell again on the refreshments being less than Kosher. I do, however, note that when the guest speakers are Italian, it is probably not a great idea serving cold pizza, pepperoni or otherwise. It is difficult to impress Italians with Israeli pizza, and more Israeli fare would perhaps, have been more appropriate.
My excuse for visiting the AIPPI event again is that the cultural program was actually very enjoyable and educational, with two expert speakers. Their talks deserve a review since from the less than impressive turnout, it is clear that many readers of this blog where not in attendance, and they did miss out.
The speakers were introduced by IPKAT blogger, Neil Wilkof, who is perhaps Israel’s leading trademark expert. This was the first time I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Neil introduce speakers, and he is entertaining and good natured and I understand why he is in demand for hosting IP events. In fact, his style is reminiscent of that of Professor Jeremy Philips, and may have been inspired by Jeremy’s approach.
The first speaker was Avv. Dr. Marco Greco on the title “Recent Trends in Art Law: The role of archives and foundations”. This was not the Marco Greco that is a Brazilian former Grand Prix motorcycle road racer and auto racing driver who competed in the Indy Racing League from 1996 to 1999. Nor is it the Marco who has spent the last few summers looking for his mother.
Maaarco has excellent English, but aaaaa deliiiiightful Itaaaaaalian aaaaaccent reminisssscent of motzzzzzaaaaarrrrella and fetttucccccinnni. It was delightful to listen to.
Marco dealt with modern art, art valuation, and the role of foundations in authenticating modern masters. Apparently original work of an artist that the artist was dissatisfied with may be genuinely the work of the artist and its provenance may be ruled on by the courts, but there is nothing they can do to get the artist’s estate or foundation to authenticate the work and this affects the value.
Marco was only too aware of the irony that the same piece of art could be priceless if made by a sought after artist, but valueless if made by someone else. In other words, the value has little to do with aesthetics and a lot to do with simple snobbery. He entertained us with a discussion on the extent to which the art of the Jewish artist Amedeo Modigliani (12 July 1884 – 24 January 1920) with its iconic elongated faces, with long noses and pronounced eye ridges were inspired by African art. Modigliani’s cubist works were not received well during his lifetime but later found acceptance and In June 2010 Modigliani’s Tête, a limestone carving of a woman’s head, became the third most expensive sculpture ever sold.
Marco noted that the art world was the best way to launder money, and then recounted a legend that Modigliani had made three facial portraits on stone and when they get negative reviews, had thrown them into the Livorno Canal. As an effort to boost tourism, in 1984, the centenary of his birth, the Livorno Municipality dredged the canal to try and find these sculptures and managed to unearth them. Art experts around the world validated their authenticity and valued them as worth hundreds of millions. Then an art student and two of his friends came forwards with incontrovertible evidence that they were the real artists, debunking the art world for being the pompous fraud it is.
After the event I had a chat with Marco and noted that I’d just been reading a Di Silva novel about Israeli art restorer and spy Gabriel Allon. Marco admitted to being a fan of the series, and said that he count vouch for the accuracy of its portrayal of the art world, but knew nothing about how accurate it was regarding the clandestine world of Israeli intelligence. I could, of course, have verified the accuracy of the depiction of the Mossad, but then I would have had to kill him which could have been messy.
There are, of course, issues in Israel regarding fake art, with more Kadishman sheep heads on the market than the shepherd could possibly have painted himself, even by walking around his studion with a palette and working on several at once. Not every lithograph bearing Chagall’s signature is genuine either. Still the lecture though entertaining and informative, did not touch on the IP practice of most of the AIPPI membership.
The second lecture, by Avv. Carlo Sala, was entitled “the Informed User in EU Design Law” and was far more practically relevant, at least to those of us that handle design issues. Carlo also has excellent English, but does not have such a strong Italian accent. The talk related to whether the user is the sales-person, the tradesman or the end-user, and it seems that the European courts have grappled with the same issues as the Israeli ones. See for example.
The talk was practical, relevant and comprehensive, and was actually the reason why I was keen to attend the event in the first place. Approximately 10% of our turnover relates to designs, and we file abroad on behalf of local clients, and handle incoming work for various goods, from coffee machines to disposable plates. My interest was actually less in the speaker per se, but more in attending a neutral forum of Israeli IP practitioners where I could raise an issue that has been bothering me. Recently I’ve noticed a disturbing trend, in that Israeli examiners are looking for some absolutely novel feature rather than novelty of the design as a whole. In other words, instead of looking at the totality of the object in a utilitiarian manner and considering whether it is different from other objects on the market or described in pictures and worthy of protection against copying for a relatively short period of time if the manufacturer / importer decides to register the product, they are looking for some element of high design. To put it differently, instead of considering design like non-functional creative works which are protectable against copying with just a smidgeon of creativity or hard graft, the Examiners in Israel are looking for an ‘creative step’ more like the inventive step required for patentability. Thus, I have had Examiner’s reject design applications based on the product comprising a combination of design features shown by a number of different competing products on the market taken together. I have also had a disposable plate rejected due to a previously registered disposable plate, despite me being able to list 5 differences.
Essentially my problem is that the standard of originality required for registration in Israel, is far higher than that required for registration in other industrialized country, with many, like European Union, only examining for formalities, not for originality at all.
I asked the audience if they had similar experiences. Adv. Asa Kling declined to comment, which was more than reasonable given his previous job, and it turned out that most did not handle design prosecution themselves.
I truly believe that there is a need for a professional forum where practitioners can discuss such issues with an aim of challenging Patent Office Policy. The AIPPI does not seem to be that forum. Since the IPAA had no problem electing former Commissioner Meir Noam as their chairperson, that organization is also unable to fairly advocate for IP concerns of practitioners against the patent office or the Knesset. There appears, therefore, to be a need for an active organization to educate IP practitioners and to advocate on their behalf. If there is sufficient interest, I am prepared to help organize an Association of Independent IP Practitioners to support sole practitioners and smaller firms.
The lecture by Marco got me thinking. There is a lot of bluff and pseudo-cultural elitism masking as culture in the modern art trade. This is rather like the wine market, where President Cohen Zedek, a modern day Sadducee with aristocratic tendencies is well respected as an authority. However, in my humble opinion, when a toast to the festival of freedom is advertised on the program, providing wine, any wine, for the toast is a minimal sign of being truly cultured. Since there are a few examiners and private practitioners in the IP field that are Moslem, it would show even more cultural awareness and consideration to also provide a non-alcoholic alternative like grape juice. This would also show consideration to those that are fighting alcoholism in 13 step programs, and there may well be some of those among the IP profession.