Lapsed Patent for Monitoring Flow of Sewage Reinstated

July 25, 2016

renew

Israel Patent Number IL 214216 titled “SEWAGE FLOW METERING METHOD”to Roberto Cymmerman lapsed due to failure to pay the first renewal. The patent issued on 1 July 2015 and so the deadline for renewal was 1 October 2015. The payment was not paid on time. Nor was it paid during the six month grace period under Section 57 of the Israel Patent Law 1967. The fact that the patent had lapsed had not published.

On 30 May 2016 the Applicant requested reinstatement via legal counsel but a Power of Attorney appointing the legal counsel was only submitted after a ruin from 6 June 2016.

An affidavit from Patent Attorney Yoram Savyon who had previously represented the Applicant was submitted. From the Affidavit it transpired that the firm uses a computerized renewal system that was updated on receipt of the notice of allowance; with a calculation of the anticipated date of grant. Based on this, the final deadline for paying the forthcoming renewal was entered. (Further renewals are derived from the filing date and are entered with the filing of the application).

In this instance, the worker who manages the database did not enter the first renewal (which is based on the issue date), but did enter the subsequent renewal date. That the patent issued was reported by the office manager to the relevant worker and it is not clear why he failed to enter the information.

According to the Affidavit, some two months before the final deadline for paying the second renewal, i.e. in May 2016, the Applicants were informed of the deadline and then it transpired that the first renewal was not paid as the deadline was not entered into the system. The Affidavit also noted that for mistakes of this kind, the worker had already been fired.

Deputy Commissioner Ms Bracha noted that the patent itself was filed on 20 July 2011 and so the deadline for the second renewal (years 6 to 10) was 20 July 2017 and not 2016 as claimed in the Affidavit. This mistake raises eyebrows to some extent with regards to the facts detailed in the Affidavit as to how the mistake was discovered. Nevertheless, the mistake for not paying the fee in a timely manner that was detailed in the Affidavit does fit in with the requirements of Section 60 of the Law and so (intent and due care – MF) and so, provided the fee is paid in a timely manner, Deputy Commissioner Ms Jacqueline Bracha saw fit to allow reinstatement, together with an opportunity to the public to oppose.

Ruling by Ms Jacqueline Bracha concerning reinstatement of IL214216, lapsed due to failure to pay renewal fee, 20 June 2016.

COMMENT
In this case, a human error resulted in failure to insert a date into a spreadsheet or dedicated program by a poorly trained and incompetent clerk who was subsequently fired. In the Colb ruling, hand-written renewal records and a more excusable error were considered a lack of due care. I argued that even computerized systems required data to be correctly entered and extracted. In this case, there seems to be a bug in the system for calculating subsequent renewals in that five years and not six is hard wired into the system (or perhaps the filing date was typed in a year early by mistake?!). There is a second error blamed on the office junior who was righteously fired, but was he/she at fault? The main thing justifying this case being considered due care seems to be the use of a computer system, despite it having a bug and being operated by someone incapable of data entry. I consider this standard of due care to be overly reliant on there being a computerized renewal system in place. Objectively, there were apparently two errors here and no indication that there was any intention to pay the first renewal in a timely manner whereas in the Colb case there was one error.


Ful – the Broad-bean Ruling

July 15, 2016

It is generally known that the Lilliput wars were fought over which side one should crack to access the contents of soft-boiled eggs.

Zeno Eitam owns registered Israel trademarks 262406 and 258737 reproduced above.  The words mean “House of Ful (broad-beans), Tasty and Healthful Since 1952.

Apart from Iraqi Jews who have G6PD, i.e. a recessive hereditary disease, causing a lack of the glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase enzyme, Ful is a common food amongst oriental Jews. Ful has been tasty and healthful (at least for those not allergic) far longer than since 1952, but the legendary Ful outlet in Beer Sheva was apparently established back then.

The Ashkenazi clan (that’s their surname, not origin, and one assumes they are actually Mizrachi, probably Moroccan or Tunisian) filed to have the marks cancelled due to lack of use.

Yitzhak, Shalom, Yaakov, Moshe and Yoseph Ashkenazi were represented by Adv. Einat Noy Peri. On 10 May 2016 she submitted a hand-written note to the Trademark Office withdrawing her representation, however no explanation or justification was given. On 15 May 2016, the Trademark Office ruled that she could not simply withdraw, and remained the attorney-of-record until someone else is appointed, and gave her until the following day, 16 May 2016, to state whether her evidence was provided to the other side or not, but, to date, she has not complied.

On 22 May 2015, Yitzhak Ashkenazi filed to have the cancellation proceedings abandoned. As of 24 May 2016, Yitzhak Ashkenazi has been represented by Adv. Yoram Dadia.

On behalf of Mr Eitam, Adv. David Walberg (pronounced Deivid and not Dah-vid, so presumably both Ashkenazi by extraction if not in name, and probably an import from an English-speaking country) accepted the abandonment of the cancellation proceedings. He considers that Adv. Yoram Dadia should be considered as acting on behalf of all plaintiffs, and anyway, the cancellation proceedings should be thrown out since the plaintiffs requesting cancellation did not submit any evidence supporting their claims.

The Adjudicator of IP, Ms Yaara Shoshani Caspi ruled that she could not ignore the protocol of a discussion between Yitchak Ashkenazi and Ms Osnot Askenazi and Ms Bar Ashkenazi that took place on 17 April 2016 before the Been Sheva District Court Judge Ms Rachel Barkai (12737-10-15) that endorsed a compromise agreement between the parties under which the Ahkenazis would withdraw the cancellation requests in the current case.

The problem is that there is that the parties in the present case are not identical to those that were party to the case before  the District Court, and, apart from YItzhak Ashkenazi, the other parties to the trademark cancellation proceedings remains Adv. Einat Noy Peri until she manages to extricate herself from her obligations. The other plaintiffs have not agreed to have the cancellation proceedings closed, nor have they accepted Adv. Dadia as their representative. Therefore, the Court Protocol cannot be relied upon in this instance.

The question remains whether there are additional grounds for cancelling the proceedings? From reviewing the cancellation application it appears that the evidence for cancellation was submitted on a portable disk that cannot be reviewed. It is also not clear that these were provided to the mark holder. The Applicants for cancellation should be given an opportunity to provide the evidence to the court and to the mark owner in readable form.  That said, it seems pointless to order the submission of evidence in an acceptable form from plaintiffs that want to withdraw their case.

Ms Shoshani Caspi separately ordered all three lawyers, Ms Noy-Peri, Mr Dadia and Mr Walberg to inform all plaintiffs within seven days that they have 45 days to submit their evidence for cancellation in an acceptable, accessible form to the Trademark Office and to Mr Zeno Eitam or the case will be closed.

Interim ruling by Ms Yaara Shoshani-Caspi concerning cancellation proceedings against Israel trademarks 262406 and 25873 to Eitham, 6 June 2016.

 

 


Israel Commissioner Vindicated by Supreme Court

June 22, 2016

appealMerck & Co. LTD is the exclusive licensee of IL 110956 for Ezetimibe owned by Schering Corporation. The patent protects the active agent Ezetimibe as found in the pharmaceutical Ezetrol, or Zetia, which reduces the amount of cholesterol in the human body. The original 20 month patent term lapsed on 13 September 2014. However, on 22 September 2005 the patentee received a patent term extension until 23 June 2017. Later however, in September 2014, following a submission by the Association of Industrialists in Israel, the Commissioner of Patents, Assa Kling, ruled that the patent term extension for IL 110956 for Ezetimibe be shortened until 22 January 2016 on the basis of the subsequently issued, shorter patent term extension of the corresponding US patent, and awarded costs of 40,000 Shekels from Merk to the Association of Industrialists.

constitutionalMerck, represented by Liad Whatstein, appealed the ruling, using arguments that failed to persuade the Commissioner, including that the law itself was unconstitutional since it destroyed property rights which were recognized in basic laws (section 8 of the Basic Law of Human Dignity and Freedom. 1980. Furthermore, the fact that the subsequent amendment to this section is not retroactive supports the allegation of lack of constitutionality.

In Appeal number 5407-11-14, the Jerusalem District Court upheld the constitutionality of the Law but recalculated the extension until October 2016 based on the duration of the corresponding German patent.  On 11 April 2014, a tribunal of Supreme Court Judges Danziger, Hendel and Shaham heard an Appeal by Merck on the constitution issue, and one by the Association of Industrialists in Israel wanting the shorter term calculated by the Commissioner to be restored. The Association of Industrialists in Israel were represented by Adv. Tal Band, and the Legal Counsel to the Govt. Ms Shimrit Golan joined the Appeal on behalf of the government.

On Appeal Judge Hendel of the Israel Supreme Court reviewed and justified the various amendments and ruled that shortening the period of a previously ruled Israel Patent Extension Order during the 20 year pendency of the original patent was constitutionally sound, as was doing it on the basis of a subsequently issued shorter protection period from a recognized country.  Judge Handel painstakingly but beautifully explained the background to the patent term extension legislation and why it was filling to link Israeli extension periods on those granted abroad. He jsutified the extension regime which is an exception to patent norms, and threw out Merck’s argument. The rigorous analysis was concluded by a section on comparative law where Judge Handel first related to Mishpat Ivri (Jewish Civil Law) and showed that there were echos of intellectual property rights in the Talmud, and that scholars of the 19th to 21st centuries related to patent law. He argued that the Jewish tradition recognises both quasi-property rights in inventions and creative activity but frowns upon tradesecrets, particularly with respect to pharmaceuticals, noting the case of Rabbi Yohanan a handsome scholar that lived in Zipporis in the Galilee who contracted scurvy, and then broke the trust of a roman matron that cured him, revealing the cure in his sermon, because of the public interest. The analysis of the Jewish sources was masterful. Then Judge Hendel briefly reviewed the US law and its developments, concluded that the US and Israel were both trying to create a fitting balance between the needs of the drug developers to benefit from a real period of protection after obtaining regulatory approval to enable them to sell their drugs at a premium and recoup their investment, and the needs of local generic drug companies to be able to compete with their foreign counterparts but them being able to conduct acts required to obtain regulatory approval during the extension period. Judge Handel noted that there was public interest in encouraging drug development by pharmaceutical companies who had to make enormous investments to bring new treatments to the market. However, there was also significant public interest in widespread and affordable drugs.

Merck’s appeal was rejected by Judge Handel and Judges Danziger and Shaham concurred without comment. Judge Handel noted that were Merck NOT to have appealed, the Appeal by the industrialists on the District Court’s actual calculation would not have been heard, so Merck’s second appeal actually resulted in a shorter patent term extension than they would have received otherwise.

I consider this ruling objectively important and very well written. Due to the significance of the issues raised, I have translated the entire ruling to make it available to non-Hebrew speakers, noting that computer translations were of little value. I have posted the full translation below the following page break as a public service. I have not used the term ‘ethical’ which Judge Handel used to refer to the drug developing countries, and occasionally have not translated idioms, or used an English language metaphor where it appears to be appropriate. The illustrations to the ruling are my contribution. I think they liven things up a bit. If you find them distracting, adjust your settings to view text only! Please note, translating this took a few days and I put billable work aside to the chagrin of various clients. I would appreciate that anyone using this translation has the decency to attribute and to link to this blog.

Read the rest of this entry »


Photos of Real Estate Are Copyright Too…

April 22, 2016

images

Estate Agents as they are called in English, or realtors as the Americans refer to them, help owners sell or rent out properties, and take a commission for so doing.

A picture is worth a thousand words as the saying goes. One estate agent who took photographs of properties and used them on his websites, discovered a marketeer marketer who used the same photos on a competing website. The estate sued for copyright infringement and succeeded in proving ownership of the copright in the photographs. A competing estate agent cannot claim ‘innocent infringement’ and the plaintiff was awarded 2500 Shekels damages.

COMMENT

Bearing in mind the low level of originality in such images, but that one estate agent is entitled to expect that his competitors will take their own photographs or come to an arangement with him to use his pictures for a fee, the ruling seems reasonable. True, statutory damages wihout proof are considerably higher, but these are a maximum, not automatically given, and a standard photo of an apartment block or similar is not high art.


Restaurant Fined for Screening Euroleague Football

April 13, 2016

UEFA

A Nahariya restaurant screened Euroleague football matches in 2012, using them as a way to attract customers. Charlton who has the broadcasting rights and deals with satellite and cable TV companies claimed that their license was for private use, not commercial use.

The Israel court ws not neither convinced that the match was inadevertently shown on the large television screens in the restaurant nor that it was the only match screened to customers, and fined the restaurant 45,000 Shekels as a warning to other businesses.


Costs in Aminach vs. Gabai

February 10, 2016

SIDS
Aminach is a large mattress manufacturer. They opposed a patent application No. 179840 filed by Moshe and Anat Gabai that allegedly reduced likelihood of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Theyir invention was a foam mattress with holes punched out so that a face down child could not be suffocated by rebreathing trapped exhaled carbon dioxide.

The Israel Patent Office refused the patent by accepting Aminach’s submission that the mattress did not have proven efficacy. The Applicants appealed this ruling to the courts and the whole thing went to the Supreme Court and back down, and eventually the patent was registered but with a narrower claim set which specified that the the mattress may help in cases of SIDS attributable to rebreathing the same air.

Our report on the original ruling is here. Our report on the Supreme Court ruling is here.

Aminach, represented by Colb, filed for costs of 444,615.99 Shekels for all actions. As a fall-back position, they requested costs of 300,796.37 Shekels for the costs from when the Gabais appointed legal counsel, and as a further fall back position, costs of 113,841.36 Shekels from when the case was referred back to the Patent Office.
The Gabais, now represented by Glazberg, Applebaum & Co, opposed this. The courts decided not to rule costs and this was an active decision and not a lacuna and the issue was therefore moot. As to the patent office costs, the Gabais claimed that essentially they had won, and all Aminach had achieved was a claim narrowing. The Gabais alleged that the costs were incurred because Aminach and their lawyers had leveraged their greater resources.

The Gabais claimed that the costs were unnecessarily incurred. For example, Aminach did not need to compare their products with the patent claims. Aminach argued that where the courts had not ruled costs, they could be ruled, and where actual costs were considered excessive, the patent office could award what they considered to be reasonable.
Aminach were awarded 40,000 Shekels legal fees and 5,597 Shekels costs for the original opposition. They were awarded a further 20,000 Shekels by the District Court who upheld the Patent Office Decision and was not prepared to review additional experimental evidence. The Supreme Court didn’t award costs (arguably declined to do so), and nor did the District Court when ruling that the case should be returned to the patent office. This decision was also appealed to the Supreme Court as was a request to stay the ruling until the end of the process. No costs were awarded for this either.

The Deputy Commissioner then accepted new evidence and the Applicants corrected the specification. Costs of 5,500 Shekels were awarded to Aminach.

The Deputy Commissioner noted that all courts had addressed the costs issue, even if to rule that costs were not granted. She also noted that Section 162B of the Israel Patent Law 1967 only empowers the Patent Office to rule costs for proceedings before it. Unless the courts specifically delegate the awarding of costs to the Patent Office, it has no authority to rule costs for appeal proceedings before the courts. Further support for this was found in section 462 of the Civil Court Procedure and in the cost ruling regarding IL 165705 Israel Aircraft Industries vs. Rafael Advanced Warfare LTD, 12 July 2012. Furthermore, Circular MN 80 if these have already been awarded.

The only costs to be considered, therefore, are the costs related to the additional evidence submitted by each side after the Supreme Court ruling and the subsequent hearing including cross-examination of the expert witnesses and the correction to the specification for which costs were previously awarded.

The Deputy Commissioner then went through the various invoices and decided which ones related to the proceedings before her and concluded that costs of $21,864.55 were attributable to the proceedings before her. She also noted that the Gabais had chosen to cross-examine witnesses and submit evidence prior to narrowing the claim set which had incurred the costs.

COMMENT

I rather enjoyed this epic battle between the little inventor who was not represented, and an Israel corporation with expensive IP counsel. I suspect that the Israel Patent Profession as a whole found it quite entertaining. I was critical of the original patent office ruling to cancel the patent on appeal and do not think that the patentees can fairly be criticized for conducting tests and submitting and cross-examining expert witnesses, whether or not they could have reached a compromise with Aminach.

In awarding full actual costs for the proceedings before her, I feel that Deputy Commissioner is punishing the patentees for what was originally a poor decision by her. If the Supreme Court felt it could rule on the Appeal against the District Court’s ruling without awarding costs, we think that the patent office could have as well.

Although it is detailed and not obviously unreasonable, maybe the Gabbais and Glazberg will appeal the cost ruling anyway?

Obviously apparently healthy babies could die for a number of reasons, some of which doctors may not yet understand. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to see if baby mattresses with air holes become common place and if this has a statistically significant effect on SIDS which is very distressing for the families concerned.


Israel Supreme Court Refuses to Soften Stiff Sentences for Counterfeit Viagra Dealers

February 8, 2016

Fake Viagra

On appeal, the Central Region District Court in Lod ruled a ten month gaol sentence and fine for Roi Peer who had distributed counterfeit Viagra pills. Roi Peer appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court, where Justice Jubrahn ruled as follows:

The crimes that the appellant were convicted of are serious and the weight of evidence required to show a likelihood of rehabilitation is consequently significant. The fine and the gaol sentence are separate punishments that should be considered separately as is the ruling that the convict be detained in an appropriate secure installation.

The Appelant was convicted on the basis of his admission, of selling and marketing pills allegedly for treating impotence, without a Dr’s prescription, not in original packaging, infringing the trademarks and without meeting the patients or gaining medical information about them.

The Court of First Instance ruled six months community service and a 150,000 Shekel fine. The District Court rejected the appeal concerning the size of the fine but accepted the State’s Appeal regarding the rest of the sentence and changed it to 10 months actual prison time. This is the basis of the appeal to the Supreme Court.

Whereas a first Appeal is a matter of right, a second Appeal is granted only in cases having a significant public interest, an important legal question requiring clarification or where there are specific issues concerning the fairness of the punishment. In this instance, there is no such justification for further judicial review. The stiffness of a punishment is only grounds for review if it is significantly disproportionate to other sentences for similar crimes. In this instance, the punishment is reasonable and balances the various considerations.

In this instance, there is insufficient indication that the Appellant will be restored to being a productive member of society to justify not sentencing him to prison. The psychological evaluation was inconclusive. The crimes were serious and the financial greed could have adversely affected the public health. The evidence of likely rehabilitation required in this case is significant and not available.

The argument that the District Court acting as an Appeal Court exceeded its mandate thereby justifying a further appeal is rejected since the sentence was in the same category as that issued by the Court of First Instance and is reasonable in the circumstances. The fact that the District Court did not detail how the punishment was reached is insufficient to justify a further appeal. The Supreme Court does not consider that time equivalent to paying the fine can used to determine the appropriate additional gaol sentence since gaol time for not paying fines is different from a gaol sentence per se and these cannot be combined in ascertaining whether a  punishment exceeds that allowed for by law or whether such a punishment is reasonable.

9102/15 Dismissal of Further Appeal of Ruling 3933-09-15, the Dismissal by S Gubrahn, 16 January 2016

COMMENT

We note that there doesn’t seem to be any evidence justifying allegations that the pills were a health risk. Indeed, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that they don’t work. Erectile dysfunction may be a medical condition that causes stress for the sufferer and his partner but it is not the sort of condition that is life threatening. That is not to say that wilful trademark infringement and passing off fake goods should not deserve serious fines and gaol time. I just don’t see this instance as more serious than other examples of willful trademark infringement and distribution of counterfeit articles.


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