Reinstatement of Lapsed Patents in Israel

March 22, 2018

not a rubber stamp

It can and does happen that annuities are inadvertently not paid and patents go abandoned.

If the patentee and/or his representative act promptly on learning that a patent lapsed, and sign affidavits to explain how the deadline was missed, reinstatement is generally possible. The Adjudicator, typically the Deputy Commissioner, will usually allow reinstatement and her decision publishes for opposition purposes. If, in the meantime, a third-party has made preparations to exploit the apparently abandoned patent, they are generally entitled to a non-transferrable license to continue to exploit. It is important to realize however, that reinstatement is NOT automatic.

This past month there were six rulings concerning abandoned patents. In five cases, in two of which the patentee was represented and in three they were not, the Deputy Commissioner ruled that the conditions of Section 56 were met and ruled that, subject to no oppositions being submitted, the patents could be reinstated.

In the sixth case, IL 177416 to Arieh Sansolo titled “Rapid Detonating Cord Coil Deployment Apparatus” went abandoned due to failure to pay the third renewal for years 10-14 after filing. The last day for paying this renewal was 10 August 2016, and six months later, on expiry of the grace period, the patent was abandoned as per Section 57 of the Law.  The fact that the patent was abandoned was published in the March 2017 journal.

From the request for reinstatement and the accompanying affidavit, it seems that the reason why the case was not renewed was due to the patentee not being reminded by the agent-of-record (Dekel Patents).

In her ruling of 7 February 2018, Ms Bracha wrote:

It is not clear from the Affidavit why the agent-of-record did not inform the patentee, nor is it clear what steps were taken by the agent-of-record to ensure that the renewal fee be paid. It is also not clear how and when the patentee and the agent-of-record became aware that the patent had lapsed

Ms Bracha gave the patentee a further opportunity to add the missing data within 7 days.

 

up a palm tree

The patentee and legal representative did file an additional submission which attempted to include testimony from both patentee and agent -of-record wherein the patentee swore to tell the truth, but the agent -of-record merely listed the circumstances without swearing to tell the truth.  Nevertheless, without relating to the formal deficiencies, Ms Bracha considered the statement. The agent -of-record noted that he assisted the patentee by receiving reminders and forwarding them to the patentee. In this instance, he did not receive a reminder and thus did not forward it to the client. The agent -of-record noted that he does not charge for this service.

In a string of decisions the Israel Patent Office has ruled that not receiving a reminder from the Patent Office is not sufficient justification to not pay the renewal. See for example, IL 185526 Khalid Akad et al. 24 October 2012. The Applicant or his representative are required to take positive steps to ensure that renewals are timely paid, such as to run a computerized reminder system or to use a renewals company.

In this instance the patentee and the agent -of-record did not have such a system but simply relied on the Patent Office. This is insufficient to fulfill the reasonable means requirement of Section 60 of the Law.

Furthermore, in this instance, the Patent Office records show that an email reminder was sent to the agent -of-record on 10 April 2016 and shows up in the Patent Office system.

It is noted that providing a renewal service without charge is insufficient to free the agent -of-record from his obligations under the law.

The request for reinstatement is refused, but the Applicant has 30 days to submit a request for a hearing.

Re Reinstatement of IL 177416 – Decision by Ms Bracha, 11 February 2018.

COMMENT

Whilst Ms Bracha is correct that the patentee and agent-of-record are obliged to docket and track renewals, things can and do go wrong. Now the Patent Office is obliged to weigh the public interest against that of the patentee and there is, indeed, a six months’ grace-period. The fact that this month there were six cases of patents that unintentionally lapsed shows that this does happen. What I would like to humbly suggest is that the Patent Office takes it upon itself to send out a further reminder or preferably two; one when the deadline for renewal passes and one a month before the end of the grace-period. The Patent Office is equipped to do this automatically without human involvement. Doing so would increase Patent Office revenues and minimize the amount of time that the Commissioner and his staff have to deal with reinstatement issues.

issues.


Exams for Wannabee Israel Patent Attorneys

September 13, 2017

The Israel Patent Office has announced the dates of the qualification exams for Israel Patent Attorneys.

Oral Bagrut PicUnless given a dispensation from one, the other, or both, each candidate has to pass a written exam that tests calligraphy and scribal errors patent drafting skills and langauge skills, and an oral exam that tests dental hygiene knowledge of IP Law, particularly but not exclusively, Israeli law.

exam paperThere are two sessions for the written exams. Those wishing to take an examination relating to computer, mechanical or electronic technologies are invited to come on Monday 27 of November 2017. Those wishing to try their hand at biology or chemistry are invited to come on Tuesday 28 November 2017.

The oral exams will be held on 20th and 21st November and candidates will be assigned specific times on registration.

The deadline for registering is one month in advance.


Retiring Israel Patent Attorney Looking to Sell Business

May 26, 2017

REtirementA well-respected Israel Patent Attorney has had enough and is looking to sell his business as an on-going concern. There are over a hundred  patent, design and trademark files from a nice mix of 20 foreign and domestic clients. Contact me if interested, and I will forward your details to the attorney.

 


Cancellation Proceedings Against an Israel Patent for a Modular Support Bracket

April 6, 2017

Figs for ACMoshe Lavi registered Israel Patent No. 157035 titled “MODULAR SUPPORT BRACKET”. A competitor, Zach Oz Air Conditioning LTD and Zach Raz filed to have the patent cancelled on grounds of invalidity. They seem to have botched the attempt, but I think that this ruling is a poor one.

Background

In the past, Lavi has tried enforcing the patent against Zach Oz Air Conditioning LTD. (Back then, around 2004, I was engaged as an expert witness by Counsel of the Defence, Soroker Agmon. In my Expert Opinion, I argued what is known as ‘the Gilette Defense’ stating that the correct interpretation of the claims was much narrower than that which Lavi and his lawyers Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer Bratz (Pearl-Cohen) was using and Zach Oz’ support bracket was not infringing. Furthermore, if one considered that Zach Oz’ brackets were within the ambit of the claims, the patent would not have issued in the light of the myriad of prior art shelf support brackets.  On the day of the trial, Lavi dropped the charges and Zach Oz agreed not to infringe the patent.

It was not the first time that Pearl-Cohen have tried to assert a patent against a competitor that was not infringing. They tried this in the US on behalf of Source Vagabond against Hydropak. In that instance, the New York District Court fined Pearl-Cohen and the lawyers actively handling the case $187,308.65. That ruling was then Appealed to and upheld by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals).

Frustrated by repeated bullying by Moshe Lavi and Pearl-Cohen, Zach Oz filed a cancellation proceeding against the Israel patent. Confusingly, their Attorney is called Pearl. It is not Zeev Pearl, but another practitioner.

Pearl-Cohen submitted a rather ambitious attempt to have the case thrown out as Zach Oz had not argued invalidity when accused of infringing, and Pearl-Cohen argued that this was a sort of in absentia estoppel since they could have raised the argument back then, and didn’t. The Commissioner threw that argument out, and allowed the cancellation proceeding to proceed.

The cancellation proceeding has now run its course and the following article Read the rest of this entry »


Squaring the Circle and Regulating the IP Profession in Israel

March 24, 2017

I was privileged to participate in a ’round table’ at the Israel Patent Office on Tuesday, on the topic of regulating the Patent Attorney profession. In this article I am going to refer to people without giving their titles such as Dr, Adv. and Patent Attorney, since most people were entitled to two or three such terms, but some aren’t and I don’t want to misrepresent anyone.

Perhaps instead of round table, Quad or Quod would be a better term as there was no table in evidence, and the chairs were laid out in a square, with the Commissioner Asa Kling, Assistant Commissioner Jacqueline Bracha and a legal liaison person from the Ministry of Justice along one side; the  various patent attorneys and the odd lawyer present, being arranged along the other three sides in an open ח shape.

basic instinctThe lack of a table and the open square was, in my case, a little distracting, as opposite me was a peroxide blond streaked patent attorney in a dress with slits up both sides who kept crossing her legs and seemed to be appealing to my Basic Instinct.

Kfir Luzzatto was looking younger than ever, and seemed to have restored his hair by self-hypnosis and meditation. I was thinking that his wife Etty was looking young enough to be his daughter and must also be using self-hypnosis and meditation, and then realized that it was his daughter, Michal, who is the fifth generation of this family firm.

There was a healthy sprinkling of sole-practitioners and senior partners of smaller offices, including Ed Langer, Daniel Feigelston, Simon Kahn, David Agranot, myself, Sinai Yarus and Erez Gur.

There was a number of representatives of Reinhold Cohn including Ronnie Benshafrut and Michal Hackmey. Gal and Amit Ehrlich and Maier Fenster represented their practice, there were some representatives of the Ministry of Justice, Tal Sines from Haddassit, someone from the tech transfer company of one of the universities, and a transcriber who taped the entire meeting. Unfortunately, Ofir Alon of the Technion tech transfer company who has just been appointed the new Commissioner of Patents was absent.

The meeting was friendly and constructive. It highlighted the general perspective of the larger firms that comprised attorneys-at-law and patent attorneys but could not have both as partners and needed creative solutions to practice, versus the smaller firms that felt that some of the regulations under discussion would make it difficult or impossible for them to continue as sole-practitioners. Read the rest of this entry »


Benjamin Barish, z”l

March 22, 2017

ben barish

It is with sadness that we note that on Thursday, March 15, 2017, Benjamin Barish passed away at the age of 91.

Ben was born in Detroit, Michigan, and served as a sailor in the U.S. Navy at the end of World War II. After receiving an electrical engineering degree, Ben worked as a patent Examiner in the U.S. Patent Office from 1947-1952.

After receiving his law degree from George Washington University, he worked as a patent lawyer in government and corporate practice.

In 1963, at the age of 38, he made Aliyah with his Israeli wife Bruria, and registered to practice before the Israeli Patent Office, receiving Patent Attorney license 29. We note that this was before the Israel 1967 Patent Law was legislated.

Ben Barish was licensed to practice in Israel and the US (before the USPTO, Washington DC and Michigan Bars).

I believe that Ben Barish then joined Reinhold Cohn which was a small firm at that time, but subsequently set up his own office in the early 1970’s.  Itzhak Rachailowich and Jonathan Patentkin who both trained under Ben Barish spoke highly of him. As was typical of his generation, Ben Barish used to dictate patent applications and had secretaries to type them up!

Ben Barish begat Mark Friedman who begat Gal Ehrlich, and then, in one of the incestuous relationships so common in our profession, at the turn of the millenium when Gal Ehrlich set up his firm, Barish moved in with and became of counsel to it. Being also an Attorney-at-law, he made sure to have a separate entrance from Ehrlich, but the offices were interconnected through a door.

In the brief period I trained at Ehrlich a couple of decades ago, Ben Barish stood out as being a mensch. He was generous with his knowledge and experience. Apparently he continued to prosecute patent applications until well into his late 80s.

May he Rest in Peace.


Patent Attorney Round Table

February 14, 2017

knights-round-table-1

The Patent Office is hosting a round table on 21 March 2017 between 2 PM and 6 PM to discuss regulating the patent profession.

Background

In September 2016 the Israel Patent Office called for comments concerning proposed legislation to regulate the patent profession.

The official position of the Association of Israel Patent Attorneys is based on the Code of Ethics for Attorneys at Law. It was drafted by attorneys-at-law working for the Reinhold Group, who are not themselves patent attorneys.

I have written up a list of issues that I consider need regulating, see here and here. To my mind, treatment of trainee patent attorneys is a critical issue and so is the limits of the profession. At present, there are a large number of non-licensed service providers that ‘help’ entrepreneurs obtain patent protection. Some are foreign attorneys practicing in Israel opposite foreign patent offices, and others are not licensed anywhere but offer renewal services, portfolio management services and other services.

In general, one can expect the profession to be expansive when interpreting the law forbidding those not licensed in Israel as either Attorneys-in-Law or Patent Attorneys. Those that are not licensed tend to construe the law more narrowly and may see themselves as not being able to formally represent clients opposite the Israel Patent Office during patent prosecution, but see no reason not to draft applications for the Applicant to file directly, no reason not to handle renewals, not to offer search services and no reason not to prosecute patents abroad on behalf of Israeli applicants.

The problem is, of course, when something goes wrong.

The lines are currently blurred. For example, I was surprised to note that a company calling itself Patenting Solutions that is headed up by an ex-paralegal, now CEO, is now the official address of record for an Israel issued patent. This seems to imply that the Patent Office recognizes one of these cowboys non-licensed practitioners.

I would NOT advise bona-fide licensed practitioners to rely on their professional organizations to look out for their interests, and I particularly urge small firms of licensed patent attorneys and sole-practitioners to come along. That said, I urge ALL interested parties to attend the round table, including those not licensed in Israel, such as US giants like Finnegan. Registration is by the following email: TamarK@justice.gov.il.