Revival of IL 132540 Opposed

September 18, 2016

chequeBack in June 2015 we reported that an attempt by the patentee Yehuda Tsabari to revive Israel Patent Number IL 132540 titled “A method and System for Direct Transfer of Funds via Magnetic Cards” and covers using credit / debit cards to gift money into the account of celebrants. It is designed for use by guests at weddings and Bar Mitzvas, and is a variation of what a refer to as a hardy perennial – it is the sort of invention that seems to be reinvented every few months, and I have provided consultations to several would be entrepreneurs, and have even drafted and successfully prosecuted patent applications for variations of the invention in the past.

paymentTsabari’s patent was abandoned due to failure to pay the fourth renewal for years 14 to 18. The Patent Office agreed to allow the revival subject to their decision publishing for opposition purposes. On publication, Going Dutch Ltd opposed the revival claiming that the patent was knowingly and intentionally abandoned, and the present decision is a substantial ruling on their opposition.

Tsabari’s application was filed on 24 October 1999 and the patent was allowed on 13 April 2004. The fourth renewal was due on 24 October 2013 but was not paid, and six months later, the patent lapsed as per Sections 56 and 57 of the Israel Patent Law 1967.

reinstatementOn 7 July 2014, Mr Tsabari filed a request for reinstatement together with an affidavit, arguing that the reminder was sent to the wrong address as the Israel Patent Office has failed to update its records with his new address, despite his updating them. According to the Affidavit, in 2005, on receiving the patent, Mr Tsabari requested that a change of address from the address of the Attorney-of-Record to his own address be entered into the Patent Office records. Despite his request, the Israel Patent Office sent a reminder for the renewals to the offices of Dr Mark Friedman, the Agent of Record. According to Tsabari, it was this mistake by the Patent Office that caused the patent to become abandoned. In support of his contention, Mr Tsabari produced a receipt for 272 Shekels which was the fee for updating the patent office register. Tsabari further claimed to have wanted the patent to remain in effect and had attempted to enforce it both in the District Court and in the Patent Office. Furthermore, he’d taken immediate action for reinstatement as soon as he’d learned that the patent had become abandoned.

reinstatement2In light of the circumstances described in the request for reinstatement, Deputy Commissioner Jacqueline Bracha was convinced that conditions for reinstatement under Section 60 of the Israel Patent Law 1967 were met, and, in her ruling of 24 July 2014, she ordered the notice of intent to reinstate published in the patent office journal for opposition purposes.

On 23 November 2014, Going Dutch Ltd opposed the reinstatement. Going Dutch Ltd brands itself Easy2give and was active in an initiative to provide a credit card based gift service at functions and events.

oppositionIn their Opposition, Going Dutch Ltd claimed that the reinstatement was contrary to Section 60 and should not have published. As a fall-back position, they argued that if the revival be upheld, they should be considered as having relied on the patent lapsing and should be indemnified from being sued for infringement, and could continue to utilize the patent under Section 63 of the Law.

In their counter statement of case, the Applicant contended that they did NOT want the patent to lapse. In support of this contention, the Applicant described attempts to commercialize the invention, and included a few appendices to support the claims. However, the Applicant requested that the appendices remain confidential, claiming that they were trade-secrets under the 1999 trade-secret act, and, in her decision of 7 May 2015, The Deputy Commissioner agreed to these remaining confidential.

The patentee also described attempts to enforce the patent against Check-Out Ltd in the District Court, and Check-Out Ltd.’s attempts to have the patent cancelled in a proceeding before the Israel Patent Office. Also, attempts at collaboration with Check-Out Ltd. that were aborted for financial reasons were described.

The Opposer’s Claims and Evidence

The Opposer, Going Dutch Ltd claimed that the reinstatement was contrary to Section 60. They contended that no reasonable excuse was given for the renewal not being timely paid and they argued that the request for reinstatement was inequitable. The 272 Shekels receipt shown by Tsabari was not for a change of address at all. Rather, it was the second renewal paid in 2005 and so the Applicant did not show evidence that the patent lapsed unintentionally. It was evident that the payment in 2005 had nothing to do with the patent lapsing since five years later, in 2010, despite the change of address, one of the owners managed to renew the patent.

The Opposer alleged that Tsabari wanted the patent to lapse. The Opposer learned this from Tsabari’s lack of activity in this area from when the patent was filed until the date of the Opposer’s submission, which indicates that the business had failed and the applicant had lost interest. The business failure of Check Out Ltd. which was a potential partner, further supports the allegation that Tsabari had abandoned the patent.

In cross-examination in February 2013, it transpired that Tsabari was aware of the Opposer’s activities back in 2013, and this supports the opposer’s contention that reinstatement was not sought immediately on learning that the patent had been abandoned.

As supporting evidence to their claims, the Opposer, Going Dutch Ltd, submitted an affidavit of Mr Guy Giyor, who was a founder and former CEO of the Opposer. Mt Giyor testified that the Opposer was established as a company offering various event related services including credit based presents at events. Mr Giyor testified that the Opposer had relied on Tsabari’s patent lapsing and Tsabari’s lack of  business activity  in developing their own initiative. Furthermore, Mr Giyor testified that Going Dutch Ltd started marketing in June 2014, after the patent had lapsed.

 Applicant’s Claims and Evidence

The Applicant detailed his attempts to monetize the patent, and repeated his claims from the application to revive, that the patent had lapsed due to a technical error of the Israel Patent Office, which continued to send reminders to the wrong address, despite a request to change the address of record submitted in 2005.

The Applicant also claimed that the Opposer was acting inequitably and in bad faith since the opposer had started commercializing their invention before the patent had lapsed, and had, in fact, infringed the patent. The Applicant for revival substantiated his claim by submitting newspaper articles that showed that Mt Guy Giyor had taken actions in 2012 and had set up a company in 2012 with the intention as stated in its constitution, of enabling wedding presents to be made at events via credit cards. The Applicant backed his claims with an affidavit.

On 3 February 2016 a discussion was held before the Deputy Commissioner, Ms Jacqueline Bracha, during which both the Applicant and the CEO of the opposer were cross-examined on their affidavits.

Discussion

The legal basis for opposing reinstatement of a lapsed patent is Section 61 of the Law, as follows:

Anyone may oppose a request to reinstate a patent within three months of the decision to allow reinstatement publishing, based on a claim that the Commissioner should not have authorized reinstatement.

The Commissioner’s authority to publicize the decision to reinstate a patent is based on Section 60 of the Law, which defines three conditions for reinstatement that are all required to be fulfilled:

  1. The renewal fee was not paid for reasonable reasons
  2. The patentee did not intend to abandon the patent
  3. The request for reinstatement was filed soon after realizing that the patent had lapsed.

When ruling on an Opposition to reinstatement, the Commissioner has to reconsider whether the conditions are fulfilled in light of the evidence brought during the opposition.

There is a difference in evidentiary requirements for authorizing reinstatement subject to publication of the decisions for opposition purposes as per Section 60 of the Law, and the evidentiary requirements to affirm that decision under Section 61 of the Law. During an opposition, the Opposer challenges the Commissioner’s determination that there are grounds for reinstatement and has to provide a strong case that the Commissioner erred in the assessment.  For more details, see the discussion on reinstatement of IL 15211 which lapsed due to failure to pay the fee; Gershon Eckstein et al. vs. Mezer Peles, Limited Paretnership of Kibbutz Mezer, published 1 April 1984.

After consideration of the claims and evidence of the parties, the Deputy Commissioner concluded that the non-payment of the renewal fee was not actually due to reasonable circumstances.

In the request for reinstatement, the Applicant claimed that the non-payment was due to a mistake of the Israel Patent Office, which, despite his request to the contrary, did not change the address of record. consequently, reminders sent  from the Patent Office did not reach their destination. As evidence of the request to change the address of record, the Applicant produced a receipt for payment of a Patent Office fee of 272 Shekels.

Here it is noted that in the past, as ruled in the Gershon decision, lack of payment of Renewal fees due to the Patentee forgetting has been recognized as a scenario where reinstatement is possible under Section 60 of the Law. See the Eckstein ruling and also the Opposition to reinstate IL 14548 Reuven Margulies vs. Exra Darrel et al. , 12 January 1972. However nowadays, in a slew of decisions on this matter, it has been ruled that failure of the Israel Patent Office to send reminders does NOT constitute reasonable grounds for revival, since tracking these deadlines is the responsibility of the patentee. See, for example, the decision re IL 185526 Chaled A’quad et al. from 24 October 2012, since we are now in an age where the patentee can easily track renewal dates, the onus is on him to show that a patent lapse wasn’t due to negligence or abandonment.

In the decision to allow reinstatement, the Deputy Commissioner had noted applicant’s attempt to update their address and their apparent relying on the Israel Patent Office to remind them of the renewal and the Patent Office’s apparent failure to do so. However, in the hearing on the Opposition to that decision it transpired that back in 2005, a payment was made to renew the patent and not to request updating of the patentee’s address. In a more rigorous examination of the patent office records it transpires that there is no evidence of any request to update the patent office record as to the address of the patentee and no evidence that any fee for this was paid. Back then, the fee for renewals was 272 Shekels and for amending the register was 204 Shekels, so it clear that the payment receipt was for the renewal and not for amending the register.

On presentation of the evidence that the fee paid was for the renewal, the Applicant for Reinstatement (Patentee) was unable to provide further evidence for requesting a change of address and, since he’d kept a copy of the renewal fee, one assumes that he would have kept a copy of the fee for change of address had it been paid. The Applicant neither provided evidence for the alleged request to change address nor any other reasons or evidence justifying the renewal not being timely paid.

The patentee who was not represented, requested to understand why he was being cross-examined, and this was explained to him as follows:

The relevant questions as far as this hearing is concerned are whether you wanted to abandon the patent, and, if you did not intend abandoning the patent, was the failure to pay the renewal fee due to a reasonable reason, and so the question as to whether you were informed of the renewal and whether you are still in contact with Dr Friedman (the agent of record) or not, are the the most relevant questions to this discussion. (Protocol Page 26 line 12).

In addition, the Deputy Commissioner was somewhat surprised that the patentee did not call Dr Mark Friedman to testify that he had not sent a reminder regarding the fourth renewal. Dr  Friedman’s testimony would have shed light on whether actions were taken after issuance to keep the patent alive and what instructions were given to Dr Friedman regarding renewal of the Patent.

The failure to provide testimony from Dr Friedman has negative evidentiary weight. Without a reasonable explanation, one can assume that Dr Friedman’s testimony would not have helped the patentee – See Civil Appeal 548/78 Ms. Anonymous vs. Mr Anonymous, p.d. 35(1)736, 760 (1980):

The Courts have always considered that a party to a decision will not fail to provide evidence that is in his favour. Failure to bring such evidence without clear explanation indicates that such evidence would act against his interests. This assumption is well rooted in both civil and criminal rulings, and the more important the evidence, the more clearly is it not being brought indicative that were it to be brought, it would act against the party bringing it. See Civil Appeal Naftali Schwartz vs. Raminoff Company for Trading and Building Equipment LTD. (Nevo 27 July 2008).

The lack of a connection between the change of address of the patentee and the non-payment of the renewal is evidenced by the fact that eight years later, in 2013, the patentee did pay the third renewal. This was clarified after the hearing when the Patent Office checked their records. This fact was reported to both sides in the 22 February decision, but the patentee did not relate to this in his summation.

The above is sufficient for the opposition to reinstatement to be successful.

Although not necessary to do so, the Deputy Commissioner added that the evidence shows that the patentee was tardy in monetizing his intellectual property. The Applicant showed that four years passed between the patent issuing and the first draft of an agreement with a credit company, and that agreement was never signed. Nearly 5 years passed from the patent issuing until the patentee had a detailed specification for a system based on the invention. The various cases between the patentee’s company Shai For You (Shai means gift) and Checkpoint seemed to have lapsed with Checkpoint going bankrupt in 2014 (see 8870-10-09 Shai For You vs. Check Out LTD 7 January 2014) and Checkpoint’s challenge of the validity of this patent was also abandoned in November 2012.

It is noted that patentee alleged that Check Point abandoned their case due to them collaborating with the patentee. However, since Check Point had requested an extension of time, doubt is cast on the patentee’s version of events.

The Applicant testified that he’d known about the Opposer’s actions back in 2013, which he alleged, infringed the patent.However, the Applicant failed to take any action, and did not even send a Cease and Desist Letter. This also indicates that the Applicant had lost interest in the patent.

CONCLUSION

Instead of justifying his request for reinstatement, the Applicant chose to attach the Opposer, accusing him of tardiness and inequitable behaviour and of attempting to commercialize the patent before it was abandoned.

Mr Giyor even testified that he knew about the patent and undertook various examinations via a private detective t ensure that the sole licensee, Shai Four You LTD> was no longer active. This indicates that he thought that Shai Four All’s patents could be enforced against him. Since Giyor’s company was established in 2012, it does not seem that Giyor had relied on the patent lapsing, and had launched his competing service in May 2013, as is clear from one of his publicity films on the Internet.

Anyone can oppose the reinstatement of a patent. The incentives for so doing are usually economical, typically the desire to utilize the patented invention. In this instance it appears that the Opposer started using the patent prior to it lapsing and waited for the patent to lapse rather than cooperating with the patentee.

equitableIt will be appreciated that the Duty of Equitable Behaviour applies to all fields of law (see Sections 39 and 61 of the Law of Contracts 1973), and the rights to a hearing are not exceptions to this rule see Bagatz 566/81 Eliyahu Amrani vs. The Supreme Rabbinical Court p.d. 37(2) 1 (7 August 1982).  Although this cannot be taken into account in the Opposition itself,  and the Opposer has proven that the patentee had not shown that the abandonment was unintentional as required by Section 60 of the Law, this can be taken into account when ruling on costs. Consequently, due to the Opposer utilizing the patent knowingly prior to it lapsing, no costs are awarded.

Opposition to IL 132450 to Yehuda Tsabari (Shai Four You) by Going Dutch Ltd, ruling by Ms Jacqueline Bracha, 31 August 2016.

 


Applicant Successfully Has Allowance of Patent Application Cancelled, Following Initiation of Opposition Proceedings

September 12, 2016

reexaminationUsually an Opposition results in an allowed patent being either cancelled, upheld or having its claim-set narrowed. Apparently, not always!

Israel Patent Application No. 240684 titled “GLYCOPYRROLATE SALTS” was filed by Dermira Inc on 19 August 2015. It is the national phase entry of PCT/US2014/19552 and so the effective filing date is 28 February 2014. It claims priority from two provisional applications and from two regular US applications, but the earliest priority claimed was 28 February 2013.

On 18 October 2015, the Applicants petitioned to make special under Section 19(a)(a)(2) of the Patent Law 1967 and requested allowance under Section 17c based on US 9,004,462.

After the application was allowed and published for Opposition purposes, S0l-gel Technologies ltd. opposed the patent issuing. They noted that the case had been allowed under Section 17c, but this was incorrect since the two regular US applications from which priority was claimed were continuations-in-part of US 13/781,390 which published on 15 August 2013.

In the US, the earlier patent application to which material is added in a Continuation-in-Part cannot be cited against the Continuation-in-Part. It is a little like a Patent-of-Addition in Israel.

Since priority is NOT claimed from US 13/781,390 which published 15 August 2013, it is prior art to IL 240684 since its publication precedes the filing of PCT/US2014/19552 on 28 February 2014. Consequently, as far as Israel is concerned, US 13/781,390 could be cited as prior art against IL 240684 and so allowance under Section 17c was wrong, as there is presumption of validity since US 13/781,390 (now US 8,558,008) was not prior art in the US, but is prior art against the Israel application.

Here’s the odd thing. US 13/781,390 was itself filed on 28 February 2013, so the PCT could have claimed priority from it!

In their statement fo case, the Opposer requested that the allowance be cancelled and the case returned to the Examiner for examination on its merits in light of the prior art (including US 13/781,390). The Applicant (represented by Pearl Cohen) agreed with this suggestion.

In his ruling, the Commissioner, Asa Kling, noted that only rarely can an allowed patent be returned to the Examiner. Patent prosecution is a one way street, and after allowance, the Examiner is no longer part of the process. Generally, opposed patents are either invalidated as lacking novelty and inventiveness, or the scope of their claims is narrowed, or, the opposition is overcome or withdrawn and the patent as allowed, is granted.

In this instance, both sides agree to the allowance being withdrawn and to the claims being (re)considered on their merits by the examiner in light of the prior art, including  US 13/781,390, thereby avoiding costly opposition proceedings.

The commissioner noted that agreement of the parties is not generally enough for odd solutions, due to their being a public interest. Generally one does not return an allowed patent application to the Examiners since the public is always third-party to such proceedings. See the ruling on request to cancel allowance of IL 219586 Fritz Collischan GMBH vs. Data Detection Technologies Inc., 9 March 2015, paragraphs 9 and 10 of the ruling.

However, it is clear that the Section 17c assumptions detailed in the Albermarle ruling do not apply here as inventiveness over US 13/781,390 was not considered by the US Examiner as it was not an issue in the States, and so the IPO cannot rely on the US Examiner’s ability, professionalism and integrity in this instance. In the circumstances, for the sake of efficiency, it was deemed appropriate to reexamine rather than to conduct an opposition. The Commissioner allowed the Section 17c allowance to be withdrawn and the case to be returned to the examiners for substantive examination on the merits.

The cancellation of the allowance now publishes for opposition purposes. Costs of 2500 Shekels are awarded to the Opposers; the low sum reflecting the early stage reached.

COMMENT

In this instance, the PCT application could and should have claimed priority from US 13/781,390. The  Opposers could have claimed both invalidity over US 13/781,390 and / or inequitable behaviour in requesting allowance under Section 17c from a continuation in part. There is a public interest in technologies remaining in the public domain. Thus I think this decision could be challenged in an opposition. Still, doing so takes resources and would incur costs. For the same reason that S0l-gel Technologies ltd seem happy with reexamination, I suspect that noone else will file an opposition to this ruling.


Co-op Shop Again

August 15, 2016

Back in February we reported on the Co-op Shop Decision. Essentially, in light of an early registrations for Co-Op and Super Co-Op trademarks, both owned by Mega Retailers who had bought out Blue Square, the Co-op Israel Supermarket Chain LTD were unable to register their logo, TM co-opshop.

The Deputy Commissioner Ms Jacqueline Bracha accepted that the registered marks may not be in use and gave Applicants 30 days to file a cancellation proceedings, offering to suspend her final ruling, pending a decision of non-use should it be filed.

coop   super-coop

The marks were indeed challenged in a cancellation proceeding filed on 12 April 2016, and this ruling relates to the cancellation of TM 83846 and TM 98697 for Co-Op and Super Co-op which were registered in June and November 1996 respectively, both in class 35.

In the cancellation request, Co-op Israel alleged that the marks were not in use and had not been since 2003. Furthermore, there were no extraordinary circumstances justifying the non-use. Therefore the marks should be cancelled. However, Coop Israel did not provide any evidence supporting its allegations.Section 41a of the Trademark Ordinance 1972 states:

“...Any interested person may request that a trademark be cancelled on the grounds of lack of bona fide use and lack of bona fide intent to use the mark over the previous three years.”

It is a matter of case-law that trademarks are property rights in all respects, and these may not be simply nibbled away. There is a burden of proof that the mark owner did not use the mark that rests on the shoulders of the party requesting that mark’s cancellation. See Bagatz Orlogad Ltd vs. Commissioner of Patents, p.d. 39 (2) 148. 

The burden of proof shuffles back and forth: the party requesting cancellation of the mark has to bring initial evidence of non-use of the registered mark. If it is accepted as sufficient to make a case, the burden of proof shifts to the mark holder to refute the challenger’s evidence and to show that the mark is in use.Failure to show lack of use works in the interest of the mark owner. See Bagatz 296/89 Moorgate Tobacco Co. Ltd. vs. Philip Morris Inc. p.d. 41 (1) 485 page 493.

With respect to the order of the proceedings in a challenge to a trademark registration on grounds of lack of use, regulation 70 of the 1940 Trademark regulations states:

A request to correct the Register or to delete a trademark from the register should detail in duplicate, the applicant, the facts on which the request for cancellation are based and the desired correction. A copy of the request should be sent to the mark owner.

There is no indication that the request for cancellation was sent to the marks owner who is not represented in this instance.

According to regulation 71 one should act as follows:

With the filing of the request and sending a copy to the registered owner, the commissioner should inform the Applicant and the Applicant should submit his evidence within two months of the notification.

In light of that said previously, and in view of the absence of a statement of case by the mark owners, I give the requester of cancellation two months to submit their evidence.. similarly, and in the same time-frame, they are to provide proof of delivery of the application to the marks owner.

The Court secretariat will ensure that this decision is delivered to the non-represented marks owner.

Interim ruling re cancellation of TM 83846 and TM 98697 for Co-Op and Super Co-op, Ms Shoshani-Caspi, 26 July 2016.

COMMENT

red kingThis reminds me
of the Red King in Alice Through the Looking Glass noting how good Alice’s eyesight was for being able to see nobody on the road at a distance where he would have trouble seeing anybody. In other words, it is difficult to show that something is not happening. How can prove that a mark is not in use???

 

 

 


Reconsideration of a Patent Extension Term

August 10, 2016

last minute shopping

In an odd development, but not one that without precedent – see here and here – Dr Shlomo Cohen Law Offices has asked the Israel Patent Office to reconsider a judicial ruling.

In this instance, the original ruling relates to the Patent Term Extension (PTE) of IL 169693 to “Bristol Myers Squibb” and Pfizer that issued under section 64(v)5 of the Israel Patent Law. The original ruling issued in September 2015, and granted a patent term extension of 974 days until 18 May 2025. That ruling followed a challenge by the patentees to Examiner’s decision of 5 March 2015.

The way that Patent Term Extensions (PTEs) are calculated in Israel is detailed in Read the rest of this entry »


Israel Patent Office Report 2015

June 13, 2016

Doch 2015.png

PATENTS

The Israel Patent Office has just published its report of 2015. Following the origami theme, and in an escalation from paper darts through hot air balloons, this time the cover shows an origami rocket. However, instead of plumes of gases, the rocket leaves a wake of bubbles. Go figure.

In 2015, 6,904 new applications were filed with the Israel Patent Office. This is the highest number since 2010, but still significantly less than 2006-2008. Noticeable increases in filing have occurred in chemistry, life sciences and computing related inventions. This reflects worldwide trends, as discussed by the EPO in their 2015 report.

The number of priority applications first filed in Israel was 830, which is up from 835 in 2014. It is still lower than any other year in the past decade. The number of non-priority applications, including Paris and PCT national phase filings, was 6074. This follows the over all new filing trends, and is more than any other year from 2011 to 2015, but less than 2006 to 2010.

Only 9.2% of Applicants for patents in Israel were Israelis. Indeed, the percentage of Israeli applicants has been steadily declining over the past decade, from 14.5% in 2006. The reduced filing fees for first time filers, which is similar to the US provisional filing fees using an agent, seems to have done nothing to encourage Israelis to first file in Israel, although I think there are significant advantages in so-doing, compared to going the US provisional route. Oddly however, there has been a steady rise in the percentage of Israel originating applications that are being allowed, when looking at the over-all allowance rate. Indeed, some 17.4 % of all patents allowed were filed by Israeli applicants.  The logical conclusion is that Israeli Applicants have an easier examination than their foreign counterparts. I doubt that this is the case. What may be happening is that Israeli Applicants are having interviews with Examiners and negotiating something allowable.

Applications are examined between two and three years from filing date, on average 30.4 months from filing (for PCT applications, this is from the PCT filing date, not national phase entry date). On average, cases take a further 29 months to allowance.

Who is filing into Israel?

Of the PCT national phase entries, 2911 originated with the USPTO as receiving office, 1203 with the EPO as receiving office, 454 with the International Bureau, 414 were national phase entries of PCTs filed with the Israel Patent Office as the receiving office. 194 cases came from Japan, 612 from China and 38 from Korea. Without the country of origin of the cases filed with the International Bureau being known and with a massive 626 originated ‘elsewhere’, it is not clear what this data really means. I suspect that a significant number of cases have come from the Swiss, DE and UK patent offices, but could be wrong.

Israeli Universities

Surprisingly, Ben Gurion University with 23 applications filed in 2015, has overtaken Yeda (Weizmann), Technion and Yissum (Hebrew University) as the most prolific University Tech Transfer filing in Israel. All the universities are down in Israeli filings compared to 2014 figures, except for the Haifa Technion. However, when PCT applications are considered, the number of cases filed last year is much higher, and is led by Yissum, Yeda, Technion, Ben Gurion and Tel Aviv in that order. What we suspect is happening is that Ben Gurion is first filing in Israel, whereas the other universities are first filing US provisional applications.

The Israel Patent Office has offered a 40% discount to Israeli universities but this doesn’t seem to have impacted their filing strategy. We are not surprised by this since the savings are marginal when considering the cost of drafting.

Other large filers

Biosense Webster, Israel Aerospace, Iscar, Elbit, Smart Medical Systems, Verint Systems and Omrix Biopharmaceuticals are major filers in Israel, and Corning, Oridion and Tel HaShomer hospital are significant local PCT filers.

Facebook Inc. Is the largest foreign filer into Israel, with a massive 136 applications in 2015. The next 14 companies are mostly pharmaceutical developers.

Divisionals

Chemistry, Pharma and Biotech applications are most likely to spin off divisional applications. This is not surprising, since the Specifications tend to be longer and less focused than mechanical, physics, medical device and computer type applications.

Applications that don’t get allowed

A significant number of Applications filed in Israel simply lapse. In 2015, 3,730 cases lapsed, 24 were rejected and 130 were expressly abandoned by the Applicant.

Section 17c allowances dropping

Only 14.5% of patents that issued were allowed under Section 17c of the Law. The number of 17c based allowances has been dropping steadily since 2010. In my experience, the Israeli Examiners are more likely to reject 17c requests based on their understanding of the art.

Fast tracking

Usage of the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) has increased, with some 390 cases being fast-tracked under the PPH (up from 96 in 2014) and a further 160 cases being made special for other reasons (age of applicant, suspected or actual infringement, etc.). So far, neither route has resulted in a significant number of cases being allowed.

Since the Green channel was established in 2010 for nothing to declare environmentally friendly patent applications, 133 cases have been fast-tracked.  In 2015, some 13 cases qualified and a whopping 3 patents issued.

Going full term

Hardly surprising, Chemistry related patents are the most likely to be renewed full term.

PCT Applications

Israelis filed 1329 PCT Applications with the IPO as receiving office and a further 128 applications filed by Israelis directly with the International Bureau selected the IPO as the International Search Authority. Interestingly, some 195 Applications filed with the USPTO as receiving office specified the IPO as the International Search Authority. In total, the Israel Patent Office issued some 1085 International Search Reports.  Israelis can choose to elect the USPTO, the EPO or the IPO as the International Search Authority. 819 out of 1329 (61.6%) chose the IPO which is marginally cheaper than the USPTO which handled 193 cases for Israeli Applicants, but significantly cheaper than the EPO which handled 317 cases.  It seems that the EPO is still considered the ‘gold standard’. EPO examiners are fluent in three languages as a requirement for their job. (I suspect from their names, that there are a very large number of US examiners who also speak a foreign language, often Vietnamese or Korean, but USPTO searches are usually very US focused).

TRADEMARKS

trademarks

The number of trademarks filed into Israel has stayed more or less constant since 2011.There has, however, been a significant rise of 23% in the number of International Applications filed with the Israel Patent Office (Trademark Division).  The numbers are a little distorted since until 2010, only single class applications were accepted. Now multiple class applications are allowed. If one considers new applications multiplied by the number of classes, in 2015, some 20,525 new cases were filed which is almost double the number of cases in 2005.

Some 24% of trademark applications filed in Israel are filed by Israeli companies. An almost identical percentage (23.7% were filed by US corporations. 6.7% were from Germany, 6.1% from Switzerland, 5% from France, 4.3% from China, 3.9% from UK applicants, 3/5% from Italy, 2.2% from Japan and 1.7% from Turkey. The remaining 18.8% came from other places. Since 2010, the proportion of Applications filed in Israel by foreign entities has crept up from 70% to 76%.

On average, applications take nearly a year and a quarter for examination to commence, but then things move quickly and typically applications are then allowed within 3 1/2 months.  Unlike patent applications where acceleration is discretionary and requires due cause, trademark applications may be accelerated merely by paying a fee. 438 cases were fast tracked in this manner.

By the end of 2015, there were 144,490 registered trademarks in effect, or 184,840 cases if multiple class marks are considered as separate cases.

Under the Madrid Protocol, and lumping Europe together as marks designating the EUIPO, Israel is the 18th most popular destination trailing Vietnam and Kazakhstan but ahead of Belarus and the Philippines.

DESIGNS

During 2015, the Israel Patent Office Design Department underwent major efficiency improvements. The backlog from filing to examination was reduced to 5 1/2 months and during 2016, is expected to be reduced still further, to only three months. The Examiners have begun listing all required amendments in each office action, so there are typically fewer iterations and applications are typically allowed within a year of filing. This is considered highly desirable as designs typically have an ever shorter commercial life as product lifespans decreases. Published designs are now searchable on-line, making redundant trips to the Israel Patent Office merely to inspect the records.  The full design registrations may be downloaded at the press of a button. There is a brand new Design Law making its way through the Knesset, which should replace the current 1924 Design Ordinance. During 2016, on-line registration and prosecution should be possible.

in 2016, a total of 1532 design applications were filed. This is about average for the last decade with a high of 1775 applications filed in 2008 and a low of 1351 in 2013. A total of 1,744 applications were allowed, which is the highest number ever.

14.4% of design applications (221 in total) were for building elements in class 25. 11.7% (180) were for containers. 10.6% (163) were for clothing; 8/1% (125) were for furniture, and  6.8% (105) for other household goods. 72% of Applications were for Israeli designs; 9% for designs originating in the US, and 4.5% for designs from Brazil. This anomaly is due to Grendene – a shoe manufacturer, and Stern a jewelers. 3% of designs come from Switzerland and from Holland, and 2% each from Italy, Luxembourg, France and the UK.

The new and somewhat Draconian three-month to respond to an office action regulation coupled with the requirement for examination to be completed within 12 months, has resulted in 1,178 applications being rejected.

It seems that most designs are renewed for a second five-year period, but few are kept in force for the maximum 15 years.

The major applicants is Klil, a manufacturer of aluminium profiles for window frames and the like, with 81 applications This is followed by Naot, a shoemakers, with 64 applications. Monkey Business Design Israel LTD and Ototo Design LTD have 34 and 18 applications respectively. Other local users of the design registration system include another aluminium profile manufacturer, a further couple of design houses, another shoe manufacturer, Karshi, a manufacturer of mass-produced Judaica and Hassidic figurines, and Keter Plastics.

 

 

Overall, Israel ranks 15th for PCT applications and 30th for both trademarks and designs applications. Considering the relatively small population, this is quite significant.

 


Refael Opposes Israel Aircraft Adding Evidence in Patent Opposition

May 14, 2016

decoy

Israel Patent Application Number 190197 to Israel Aircraft Industries titled “A Method for Performing Exo-Atmospheric Missile’s Interception Trial” was allowed and published for Opposition purposes. Refael Advanced Weapons Systems LTD opposed the patent issuing.

After a hearing of the evidence on 20 January 2016 and before the parties submitted their summation statements, Israel Aircraft Industries requested submitting a copy of PCT/IL2009/000303, the international application claiming priority from IL190197.

 

Section 67 of the Patent Regulations 1968 states that the end of the evidence stage is the hearing, and further evidence may only be submitted at the discretion of the Commissioner of Patents:

Neither Applicant or Opposer may file further evidence unless with the permission of the Commissioner.

The consideration for allowing such late submissions are the relevance of the evidence. See IL 179840 Aminach Furniture Industries vs. Moshe Gabai et al. (20/11/2014) Section 12. The question of relevance means the likelihood of the relevance swaying the decision if allowed.

The courts have detailed additional considerations for allowing late evidence in Civil Appeal 579/90 Mordechai and Gila Rizin vs. Rsipporah bin Nun (5/7/1992) and includes the type of evidence, where a simple technical fact is more easily submitted than a complex and tenuous scientific or legal argument, the stage of the proceedings, and whether or not the side bringing the evidence could and should have known about it earlier. However, as the Supreme Court ruled in the Aminach Appeal, the Patent Office has a slightly different duty to that of the courts in that it does not merely arbitrate inter-partes proceedings, but is responsible for the integrity of the patent register, meaning that it has a public responsibility to prevent patents from issuing where they lack novelty or inventive step.

The issue here is that the original application used the term ‘decoy’, but in the international stage, the term ‘dummy target’ was substituted.  The additional evidence was submitted after the opposer related to the change in terminology during the hearing, during cross-examination of the Applicant’s witness Dr Robinski. Following the witness’ response during the hearing, the Opposer alleged that the Examiner had been misled by the Applicant switching the figures and terminology from ‘decoy’ to ‘dummy target’, followed by claiming that the prior art related to decoys whereas the present invention related to dummy targets.

The Applicant responded that the International Application which he wished to submit as evidence, showed that there was no attempt at deceit. Furthermore, the International Application was before the Examiner when this application was examined. The Opposer does not deny this, and the whole International file-wrapper including the International Search Report were before the Examiner.In such circumstances, it is highly doubtful that if the International Publication had been cited during the hearing by either party, that the opposing party would have opposed this as submission of new evidence.

The parties disagree as to the relevance of the international application and to whether it sheds light on the patentability of the Israel Application and whether the Examiner was misled.

Without relating to the main issue of patentability and misleading the Examiner which belongs in the ruling and not in an interim-judgement, the Commissioner, Asa Kling, is willing to allow the International Application to be submitted as additional evidence at this late stage of the proceedings.

This is justified, since it is clear that the Applicant would not have needed to file this additional submission if it were not for the line of attack taken by the Opposer at the hearing. Consequently, it does not appear that the Applicant was holding back this evidence to spring it on the Opposer at this late stage. Citing 2212-11-12 Merck & Co. Inc. vs. Teva (6/12/2012): To the extent that allowing this evidence to be submitted now, disadvantages the Opposer, this can be dealt with in the costs ruling. Consequently, the International Application may be submitted as additional evidence.

The Applicant has 7 days to submit the International Search Report together with an Affidavit. The Opposer will then have a further 7 days to cross-examine the signor of the Affidavit about this additional evidence. Following this, a decision regarding the future of the proceeding will be given.

Costs for this stage will be addressed in the costs ruling after the final decision.

Opposition to IL 190197, Interim Decision by Assa Kling, 14 April 2016.

COMMENT

In duck shooting, a decoy is an artificial duck, often made of wood, that attracts other ducks to a body of water, so that they can be shot. I assume that taking out missiles is somewhat different, and if the wrong term was used, it was more likely due to imperfect English of the patent attorney, possibly mislead by the inventor who typically has even poorer English. It is unlikely that there is an attempt to mislead.


Booking.Com

April 8, 2016

bookingcom

Booking.com is a web-based hotel booking website, as anyone who is looked into booking hotels over the Internet will be aware. They have a great domain name, use website traffic promotion tools and, since they get a lot of traffic, have a good google rating.

The company has attempted to register Israel trademark no. 244245 for the word mark “booking.com” in classes 39 and 43. By wordmark, the intention is the word BOOKING.COM without any colours, background or font. The application is a national phase entry of a Madrid Protocol international application.

The list of services in class 39 is as follows:

Arranging of tours; reservation and booking of travel tickets; information, advice and consultancy regarding the aforesaid services, also related to destination issues; the aforesaid services, also provided by travel agents, tour operators and tourist agencies; the aforesaid services also provided electronically

The list of goods and services in class 43 is as follows:

Hotel reservation services; reservation of holiday accommodations, also in resort areas; providing information about hotels, holiday accommodations and resorts (accommodations), whether or not based on the valuation of customers; information, advice and consultancy relating to the aforesaid services; the aforesaid services also provided electronically

The trademark Examiner rejected the mark as being generic for the services covered. The Applicant provided an affidavit of the CFO, Olivier Jean-Marie Bisserier, which testifies to an impressive usage by Israelis.

The Applicant argues that the mark is not generic but merely descriptive and thus able to acquire distinctiveness due to usage. Since the term booking is a verb and not a noun, it is not synonymous with the services. [MF – This is a very interesting and creative argument, however, my English is probably better than both Olivier Jean-Marie Bisserier’s and the attorney of record, and I consider the term booking to be both a verb and a noun. One has made a booking, or has a booking. In other words, it is both reserving and a reservation. Indeed, dictionaries give reservation as a synonym]. Applicant notes that the verb to book has other meanings, such as to arrest and for actions related to books. [MF – Here I am flummoxed. Not only is the word used as a noun and not a verb, but ne wonders if there is really a demand for people to have themselves arrested on-line. Furthermore,  does a betting shop make a booking or a book? Is to write or publish a book a booking? creative, but wrong].

Furthermore, the Applicant noted that various similar domain names had been registered in other countries. For example, homecompare.com for insurance is registered in the US, work.com is registered for computer games in the UK and in Israel, weather.com is registered for metorological equipment in the US, answers.com is registered in the US for consultancy and publicity services. The Applicant’s agent also related to verbal arguments provided in the Federal Circuit Court of Appeal in re Steel Building.com 75 USPQ 2D 1420. [MF – it seems to me that none of these cases are analogous in that homecompare.com does not provide homes or even compare homes, but provides insurance services; weather.com does not provide weather details or weather, but meteorological equipment, and answers.com does not provide answers, per se. Furthermore, as none of these are Israel precedents, they are irrelevant. Furthermore, even where a different mark has registered in Israel that an Applicant considers analogous to his case, the Israel Patent Office does not accept such cases as binding precedent or even as guiding].

RULING 

Deputy Commissioner Ms Jacqueline Bracha notes that the Applicant accepts that generic marks cannot be registered, so the issue in question is whether the mark is indeed generic or merely descriptive.

In this regard, The Deputy Commissioner started with a discussion of the Family Magazine case, and then cited from the Steel Builders case referred to by Applicant:

 “A generic term cannot function as an indicator of the source of a product, and thus as a trademark, because the relevant public understands the term primarily as the common name for the product. In re Dial-A-Mattress, 240 F.3d 1341, 1344 (Fed. Cir. 2001). This court’s test for genericness has two parts: first, the court determines the genus of goods or services at issue, and second, the court determines whether the term sought to be registered is understood by the relevant public “primarily to refer to that genus of goods or services.

The top-level domain Steel Builders.com provide design services and not steel-building services, per se. They are not welders or providers of steel beams for the building industry.

As to the general issue of whether a .COM after a generic word is enough to create distinctiveness, the Deputy Commissioner cited com, Inc. v. AOL Adver., Inc., 616 F.3d 974, 978-979 (9th Cir. Cal. 2010):

“There is extensive Federal Circuit precedent in support of our conclusion that the combination of “.com” and “advertising” does not result in a descriptive mark. The Federal Circuit has repeatedly affirmed the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s (“TTAB”) findings that marks similar to ADVERTISING.COM are generic. See In re Hotels.com, 573 F.3d 1300, 1304 (Fed. Cir. 2009) (HOTELS.COM);  [*979]  In re 1800MATTRESS.COM IP, LLC, 586 F.3d 1359, 1361-62 (Fed. Cir. 2009) (MATTRESS.COM); In re Reed Elsevier Props. Inc., 482 F.3d 1376, 1378  [***1314]  (Fed. Cir. 2007) (LAW-YERS.COM).  The Federal Circuit has been explicit that HN9adding “.com” or another TLD to an otherwise unprotectable term will only in rare circumstances result in a distinctive composite. See In re Steelbuilding.com, 415 F.3d 1293, 1297 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (“Only in rare instances will the addition of a TLD indicator to a descriptive term operate to  [**11] create a distinctive mark.”); In re Oppedahl & Larson LLP, 373 F.3d at 1174-76. This position comports with existing Ninth Circuit law explaining that, in the context of likelihood of confusion, the addition of “.com” to a mark generally does not strengthen the mark. See Brookfield Commc’ns. v. W. Coast Entm’t Corp., 174 F.3d 1036, 1055 (9th Cir. 1999).

“To allow trademark protection for generic terms, . . . even when [they] have become identified with a first user, would grant the owner of the mark a monopoly, since a competitor could not describe his goods as what they are.”Surgicenters, 601 F.2d at 1017 (quotation marks omitted). 7 A major advantage that AOL would get from trademark protection of ADVERTISING.COM is to foreclose competitors from using a vast array of simple, easy to remember domain names and designations  [**18] that describe the services provided. The effect is similar to that which would result if trademark law embraced the obviously generic ADVERTISING COMPANY as a protectable mark because it “ha[d] become identified with a first user.”” 

As to the Steelbuilding decision the Deputy Commissioner quoted Luke M. Rona, WHO ARE YOU? DIFFICULTIES IN OBTAINING TRADEMARK PROTECTION FOR DOMAIN NAMES, 8 Wash. J.L. Tech. & Arts 61, 75.

“Steelbuilding stands out as the one recent case where two generic words combined into a compound, coupled with a TLD indicator, almost created a descriptive mark. The failed marks in1800Mattress and Advertise were generic single words that failed to create a distinctive mark when joined with a TLD. While it is difficult to say that a standard for the descriptiveness of domain names as trademarks has emerged in the federal courts, several factors seem to increase the likelihood that a court will categorize a domain name as descriptive.

First, melding two generic words into a compound word creates the possibility of new meaning that could distinctly identify the company behind the goods or services provided, thereby satisfying the “Who are you?” test. Steelbuilding linked an adjective with a noun to create a composite verb, such that the Federal Circuit looked not only at the possibility of selling steel buildings, but alternatively, the actual construction of steel buildings in an online environment. The two words potentially functioned as a verb, thereby moving the mark from purely generic into possibly descriptive.

Second, where a possible double entendre exists, it is much less likely that the mark will be termed generic, and this likelihood decreases further when two generic words are spliced together. The mark in Steelbuilding could have been viewed as an adjective and noun or one compound verb, depending on how the words were interpreted. It is much more difficult for this kind of layered meaning to emerge from a single word like “mattress” or “advertising,” which largely remain confined to one part of speech.”

Furthermore, the dictionary definition from the Miriam Webster dictionary on-line is:

“an arrangement for a person or group (such as a singer or band) to perform at a particular place; an arrangement to have something (such as a room) held for your use at a later time; soccer : the act of officially recording the name of a player who has broken the rules in a game; he act of one that books; an engagement or scheduled performance; reservation.”

Not only is booking a generic term, but its usage for hotel rooms is the example par excellence that the dictionary uses to illustrate the term.

Ms Bracha noted that the booking.com logo in white lettering with particular font and blue background stylized marks registered in Israel as 252107, 252108, 199137 and 199136, and elsewhere. This is the appropriate level of protection.

It would be innaproriate for a generic wordmark to register,which could then be used to prevent competitors using other generic domains such as mybooking.com, bookinghotels.com, hotelsbooking.com and hotels.co.il to provide similar services.

Although booking.com was registered in New Zealand, it was rejected in the US, Japan, South Korea and elsewhere.

The mark remains refused.

Rejection of BOOKING.COM wordmark, Ms Jacqueline Bracha, 9 March 2016