District Court Upholds Trademark Ruling Re Scratch on Aluminium Profiles

November 16, 2016

The District Court has upheld Ms Bracha’s Decision not to allow registration of Israel trademark application 240319 filed by AL-SHURKAH ALWATANEYA LISENAET AL-ALAMENYOM WALPROFILAT (National Aluminum & Profile Co.) or NAPCO is such a mark following opposition proceeding by  Extal LTD.

240139

The mark, concerned is shown here. It was applied for aluminium profiles in class 6. A report of the Opposition ruling of the Israel Patent Office may be found here.

 


Statutory Damages for Reproducing Photographs

August 2, 2016

copyrightUnder the Israel Copyright Law 2007 there are statutory awards available for copyright infringement of up to 100,000 Shekels without proof of damage. There is a separate statutory award for damage to the moral right to be acknowledged as an author of a creative work that is up to an additional 100,000 Shekels .

Photographs are considered creative works and it is the photographer, not the subject of the photographer that owns the rights.

However, the would-be-plaintiff should be aware that although the courts can award up to 200,000 Shekels for copyright infringement by a photograph being reproduced without permission, they generally make much smaller awards.

Whether one sues under copyright infringement or under the Law of Unjust Enrichment the statutory damage despite lack-of-proof merely enables the court to grant compensation for estimated damages where the plaintiff has trouble proving the damage. Not every photograph is considered as automatically worth tens of thousands of shekels.

Here are four recent cases:

  • A website for an aluminium factory used an image taken from a competitor’s website without permission. The damages awarded were 3,500 Shekels.
  • A photographer took pictures of landscaped gardens, and the landscape architect reproduced these without permission. The name of the photographer was not mentioned. The compensation awarded for copyright and moral rights infringement was 10,000 Shekels.
  • A beautician and her husband sold cosmetics via eBay from a virtual shop. The cosmetics were made by Holyland Cosmetics. The beautician and her husband used photographs and text taken from  Holyland Cosmetics’ website and were fined 65,000 Shekels.
  • amir-peretzVery few photographs become iconic images. One that did was the famous picture of then Israel Defense Minister Amir Peretz looking interestedly at military maneuvers through binoculars without noticing that the lens caps were still in place. A journalist called Ephraim Shrir took the photo, and has since been busy suing every newspaper and media outlet that failed to acknowledge his moral rights to be recognized as the photographer, and that failed to pay him copyright compensation.  We have written about his claims in the past, see here and here, where both his copyright and moral rights were recognized by the courts. In a recent ruling however, Shrir sued HaAretz for reproducing the photograph, but they claimed that they had obtained the image legally from Associated Press (AP) who was acknowledged. The case was thrown out.

 

 


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.