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.

 


IL 221116 – Extending the Period for Reconsideration of a Refused Patent

November 2, 2016

mouth-cleanerIsrael Patent Application No. IL 22116 titled “Mouth Cleaner” was applied for by Yaakov Dichtenberg and Danny Unger who is also a patent attorney.

The Application was rejected. Under Section 21a and 164a of the Israel Patent Law 1967,  within 12 months of a final rejection, the Applicant may request reconsideration by the Commissioner. After that time it is possible to have a closed application reopened, but it is difficult and it is generally necessary to show extreme circumstances resulted in the application becoming abandoned.

weve-movedThis Application was filed on 25 July 2012 and, in accordance with Section 16a of the Law, a Notice of Imminent Publication was sent to the Applicants on 5 January 2014. This notice was sent to the address given on the application form which was the address of the first Applicant, Mr Danny Unger, a patent attorney who represented himself and the his c0-applicant. The Application published on 30 January 2014.

On 2 February 2014 the Applicants received a Notice of Imminent Examination in accordance with Section 18 of the Law and regulation 36 of the patent regulations 1968. Since the Applicants did not respond to this Notice within the period ordained in regulation 36, a reminder was sent on 5 November 2014 to the effect that in absence of a response within 30 days, the Application would be deemed abandoned. Subsequently, on 21 December 2014 a Notice of Rejection issued that also informed the Applicants that they could request reinstatement within 12 months.

On 21 December 2015 a request for reinstatement was received together with a response to the Notice Prior to Examination. The Notice of Reinstatement did not include a signed affidavit as required by Commissioner Circular  026/2014, however the Applicants alleged that they never received the correspondence due to a change of address.

On 15 March 2016 the Deputy Commissioner Ms Jacqueline Bracha requested that the Applicants provide a detailed signed statement of the events leading to the Application becoming abandoned and set a date of 20 April 2016 for a hearing.

On 19 April 2016, one day before the hearing, the Applicants requested a postponement for personal reasons. Despite the lateness of the request and the lack of a doctor’s letter, Ms Bracha agreed to the postponement. Nevertheless, the detailed statement was not submitted.

Applicant and Patent Attorney Unger arrived very late to the rescheduled hearing and claimed that he thought that updating the Ministry of the Interior regarding his change of address was sufficient to automatically update the patent office records. The Applicant was informed that Regulation 16a makes it clear that he should have proactively informed the Israel Patent Office of his change of address and that he still needed to provide an affidavit.

On 25 May 2016 an Affidavit was received in which the Applicant informed the Israel Patent Office that he neglected to inform them of his change of address and consequently never received the correspondence from 2014 to 2016 which was sent to his previous address. He went on to affirm that he never intended to abandon the Application and wanted to continue prosecuting the Application in parallel with the US application.

RULING

Section 21a sets the timetable for requesting reconsideration of a rejected Application as follows:

21A. If the Registrar refused to accept an application under section 21, then he may— on the applicant’s application—reconsider the refusal, on condition that the application be submitted within 12 months after the day on which the Registrar refused to accept it as aforesaid.

Section 164a of the Law enables the Commissioner to extend Section 21a due to reasonable causes:

Where the 12 month period stated in Section 21 has passed, the Commissioner may, nevertheless, reinstate a patent application in exceptional circumstances under Section 164a which states:

164.—(a) The Registrar may, if he sees reasonable cause for doing so, extend any time prescribed by this Law or by regulations under it for the performance of anything at the Office or before the Registrar, except for the times prescribed in sections 30, 56, 57, 61, 64F, 64M…

As the Deputy Commissioner, Ms Bracha sees it, Section 21a gives the timeline for an Applicant to restore an Application. Section 164a gives the Commissioner sweeping powers to reinstate but has to be applied with consideration of the fine balance between the Applicant’s interest and that of the public; see 2806/04 Commissioner of Patents vs. Recodati Ireland LTD:

The policy regarding different requests to extend deadlines will vary depending on context and the type of proceeding that the extension is requested for.

If the Commissioner agrees to an extension, he is entitled to make the decision dependent on appropriate conditions in the circumstances as detailed in Section 164b:

The Commissioner may make the extension dependent on any conditions as seen fit.

As ruled in the decision concerning IL 157563 ICOS Corporation from 21 October 2013:

Citing Opposition IL 110548 Shmuel Sadovski vs. Hogla Kimberly Marketing LTD. regarding Revivals, the relevant considerations are the time passed and the underlying reasons for the delay. In this regard, the time passed not only provides an indication of the reasonableness of the Applicant’s behaviour, but also affects the likelihood of third parties relying on the case being abandoned, since it is evident that the longer an application remains abandoned, the greater the likelihood that third-parties will have relied upon the invention not having been patented.

In this instance, the period beyond the 12 months automatically  granted by Section 21a of the Law is minimal. The Applicant filed a request on the last day but did not file it properly since no Affidavit was included. The Affidavit was only submitted after the hearing.

However, the behaviour of the Applicant does not conform to that expected of a Patent Attorney, who, in this case, represents not just himself, but also a second Applicant. A Patent Attorney is expected to know that he should provide an address to the Israel Patent Office and that this address will be the one that post is sent to. The Patent Office cannot change the address of record without instruction to do so in a formal request to change the address of record. No such request was submitted. Furthermore, the Applicant found it difficult to conform with the revival instructions after being instructed to provide an affidavit explaining the circumstances leading to the application going abandoned. Nevertheless, it does seem that the Applicant followed the case or he would not have known that he should request revival of the Application.

elephant-and-post-boxIn the circumstances, the Deputy Commissioner ruled that the case should be returned to the Examiner as per Section 21a. However, because of the public interest, the Deputy Commissioner makes revival conditional on anyone relying on the patent lapsing from when it lapsed until when it was reinstated being allowed to continue using the invention, even if a patent should eventually issue.

Notice is given to the Applicant that his address has still not been updated.

Decision by Ms Jacqueline Bracha regarding reinstatement of IL 221116 “”Mouth Cleaner” to Yaakov Dichtenberg and Danny Unger”,  7 September 2016

COMMENT

Apart from being rather surprised that a registered Patent Attorney could forget to update the patent office about his change of address and assume that the Ministry of the Interior would do it automatically, I am at a loss as to why he didn’t bother checking up the progress of the application for his own invention on-line.

Since the request for revival was filed within the 12 month time period, at least, since all yearly and monthly deadlines are to the same calendar day, I think the decision is correct.

chewing-gumI couldn’t resist reviewing the Application as claimed, and note that the first few claims attempt to monopolize apples and chewing gum. Go figure.


Israel Patent Office Invitation to a Round Table

September 27, 2016

250px-king_arthur_and_the_knights_of_the_round_table

The Israel Patent Office has issued an invitation to all knights  the entire public including not just knights, but squires and serfs as well  to attend a round table on the topic of draft patent office circulars.

For those not initiated into our little world, Patent Office Circulars aren’t circular at all. They are rectangular sheets of paper with the noble proportions of A4.

In these rectangular circulars, King Arthur the Commissioner lays down decrees on issues that do not require the Knesset or the Minister of Justice to legislate. Such issues include what may be submitted in electronic format and what requires hard copy in triplicate, things like taxi-cab omnibus claims, Swiss cheese type claims, what is considered patentable subject matter and the like.

Israel Patent Office Circulars are not limited to patents, but also regulate designs and trademarks, training for apprentices trainee patent attorneys and the like.

The Israel Patent Office has recently began sending draft circulars to their chain-mail list for feedback.  The meeting of the Round Table is scheduled for 22 November 2016 and is an opportunity for all and sundry to present their views on such draft circulars.