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.


Shabbat Lifts Not for the Public Good

July 18, 2016

 

shabbat liftG.L. Glatt Lift Company Ltd. filed a patent application for a Shabbat Lift; an elevator that may be used on the Jewish Sabbath without transgression of the holy day. (The term Glatt relates to a standard for Kosher beef that the generally accepted Ashkenazi authorities consider a stringency. By transference, the term implies super-Kosher, or something similar. Many Jewish authorities allow usage of a lift that stops automatically, or riding in a lift in a hospital or similar if someone assumed to be non-Jewish operates it for their benefit. Other authorities are stricter. More discussion on this is given at the end of this article).

Maalit ShabbatIn this instance, the Applicants have filed a patent for a technological Hallachic solution that is allegedly novel and inventive and that is claimed to overcome the reservations of those Hallachic authorities that do not allow usage of the type of ‘Shabbat Lifts’ that are common in apartment blocks with religious residents.

Israel Patent Application No. IL 221842 titled “Shabbat Lift” was submitted on 9 September 2012. The application claims priority from a US provisional application number 61/533,244 that was filed on 11 September 2011, and a corresponding PCT application, No PCT/IB2012/054604 was also filed.

On 13 October 2015, the Applicants received a Notice Prior to Examination to which they responded on 1 February 2016 with a list of prior art. The submission of a response to the Notice Prior to Examination creates a state of affairs by which the application is ready for examination (see section 5.3 of the Examination Procedure for Examiners).

On 1 February 2016 the Applicant also submitted a request for accelerated examination, which is a petition to make special. The justification for the request was that awarding the patent was in the public interest.

The Applicant claimed that the lack of appropriate Shabbat lifts prevented high-rise accommodation for the Ultra-Orthodox and the proposed solution would overcome this barrier. The Applicant considered that his invention would facilitate high-rise Ultra-Orthodox accommodation and thereby minimize land usage (by increasing the population density) and would thereby lower building costs.The solution would also make life easier for the ill, the elderly and children who could not use elevators on Shabbat. Various articles regarding the lack of accommodation for the Ultra-Orthodox were appended.

The statement was not specific, but it appears that the legal support was claimed from Section 19a (v) and (vi) that state that:

An applicant for accelerated examination with reasonable arguments may submit a reasoned request, together with a statement supporting the facts; all of the following, inter alia, may be considered reasonable justification:

(5) common good;

(6) special justifying circumstances.

Generally patents are examined in turn so ‘first come, first served’ as per Section 9 of the Patent Law:

If more than one applicant request a patent for the same invention, he that first applied will prevail. 

The order of examination is generally on a ‘first come, first served’ basis as per Section 34a of the regulations:

34a the applications will be allocated to each internal classification group and within each classification group, will be examined in turn. 

Examination in turn both facilitates Section 9 and also ensures that relevant prior art is available to the Examiner. The first come, first served regime is itself in the public interest – See ruling re Petition to make special Israel Patent Application no. IL 216870 to Cimas Limited, 24 March 2014.

The possibility for making an application special is an exception to the general rule. It undermines the principle of ‘first come first served’, makes the examination more difficult and arguably damages the quality of the examination.  For example, a queue-jumping application may be examined and allowed without realizing that an earlier filed application that was not examined challenges the novelty or inventiveness of the claims. Any fast-tracking results in other applications being delayed and is thus against the public interest.

Fast-tracking risks unfairness, but the legislators allow it under circumstances detailed in Section 19a of the Law where there is an over-riding public interest or special circumstances. Section 19a was legislated in the 10th amendment to the patent law that came into effect on 12 July 2012. From examination of the discussion at the committee state it is clear that the Commissioner has the discretion to explain the law. It is clear that the type of justification that is acceptable is extreme circumstances. For example: there could be circumstances that a dramatic discovery is like an earthquake and is positive for the State of Israel. Isaak Herzog, Knesset legislative committee discussion of 13 March 2012.

The justifications listed in Section 19a were actually those for third parties to request an application be fast-tracked but there is no reason to suppose that they are not applicable to requests by the Applicant himself. Nevertheless it appears that what the legislators intended was something of interest to the entire population as of national interest for the whole population and not for micro-economic interests of one sector or another. There is an underlying assumption of public interest in all patents. The only justification for ever granting a patent (i.e. a monopoly, albeit limited in time and geographical application) is that there is a national interest in micro-economic profits and technological progress.

No-one challenges the fact that each patent provides a different public interest depending on the type of invention and its application. There is no clear economic or social scale that can be used to rank different patents. However the same term is generally understood in the same manner in different legislation to provide coherency (see Aharon Barak, Volume 2, Legislative Interpretation, Nevo 1993 pages 313 and 321. Thus the term “common good” in Section 19a of the patent law is a priori similar to the term in Section 122 which discusses forced licenses. Section 122 states:

The Commissioner, where he comes to consider the request for a compulsory license under Section 117 should consider, inter alia:….

….

(2) the common good generally obliges that all inventions should provide the protected goods by manufacturing or import, so enable widest possible supply in the circumstances, without delay.. 

The District Court ruled in 881/94 Eli Lilly and Company vs. TEVA Pharmaceuticals LTD 25 November 1998:

In the field of patents, the common interest is the main and dominant cause for determining balances and rights. There may be a specific basis for worrying for private interest of the specific owners, and a patent an be considered as a reward that the legislators bestows on the entrepreneur. But the main justification of the patent system is the public considerations of utility and profit that affect the community taken as a whole. Whilst it is true that a patent provides protection to an individual, the existence of the right and its extent are determined by how much they fulfill the public interest. In this regard a patent is like a compulsory license. In both cases a personal right is provided to an individual but the underlying rationale for granting the rights is the common good. Just as the compulsory license is not granted for the benefit of the applicant, similarly a patent is only granted to the owners because it is in the public interest. It is not a balance between private rights and the public interest, but rather a balance between different public interests that together define the common good.

Thus the common good in this instance, as with compulsory licenses, is the result of balancing different public interests. Where the Applicant desires to depart from the general balance of interests including the principle of ‘first come first served’, the justification for jumping the queue has to be something weighty of significance to the wider public or a positive macro economic effect.

Furthermore, from when the application is filed until it eventually issues as a patent, there is nothing preventing the applicant from implementing the invention described in the patent application, enabling the public to benefit immediately. The enforcement of a patent is of economic interest to the patentee only. First tracking is not in the public interest at all. It only serves the applicant.

Without addressing the issue of patentability at all at this stage, the Commissioner does not thing that the present invention is more ‘public good’ than other inventions and, as the applicant himself testified, it serves a specific population segment only. The petition to make special did not include any economic calculation to show why it was justified.

Although the above arguments relate to the ‘public good’ they are equally applicable to the ‘special reasons justifying advancing the examination’. Consequently the application for fast-tracking is rejected and the application will be examined in turn.

Ruling by Commissioner Asa Kling Concerning Making Special Israel Patent Application Number IL 221842 to Glatt Lifts LTD., 14 June 2016 

COMMENTS

Very few inventions positively affect everyone. If something could help 10% of the population, it seems to me that it should be considered of significance, whether the population is women, AIDS sufferers, people living near the Gazan border, parents of small children or the Ultra-Orthodox. I don’t see any reason why common good should be interpreted as of value to people across the population without regard to race, age, religion, religiosity or sexual orientation.

The underlying presumption of the Applicant is that conventional elevators do more electrical work for each passenger riding in the elevator and that this is against the laws of Shabbat to rely on Shabbat settings on lists. If this assumption is true, it affects all Jews and most of Israel’s population is Jewish. Even if many Jews are not Observant, and many more are not persuaded that using currently available Shabbat lifts are not acceptable I suspect that from the Applicant’s perspective, Shabbat observance is of value and desecration is problematic regardless of the religious philosophy of the Jew in question. It may be what’s preventing the Messiah from coming. Furthermore, the State of Israel accepts the principle of Shabbat observance as being of national interest by not allowing trading on Shabbat and by not having Shabbat desecration by the Head of State, ambassadors, etc. and by requiring Shabbat observance on army bases apart from where security considerations take precedence.

For more details of the ruling (wrongly???) attributed to Rav Elyashiv, see here. See also a report in the Yeshiva World (sic) and one from the UK’s Daily Telegraph. Rabbi Yisrael Rozen’s ruling allowing both ascending and descending in Shabbat Elevators and listing what modifications are required to enable an elevator to be used on Shabbat may be found here (Tchumin 5, 75; see also article by Professor Lev in same volume, page 58).

I took the liberty of reviewing IL 221842 to Glatt Lifts LTD and its claims. If I was examining it for patentability, I would disallow it as not being enabled. It may be enabled from the perspective of the Hallachic problem it is trying to solve, but in my opinion, it does not provide a solution that enables a person of the art to go away and build a working lift without undue experimentation which is the standard for which patent applications are judged.


Amending the Specification of an Opposed Patent Application

July 7, 2016

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Under Israel Law, allowed patent applications publish for opposition purposes for three months prior to issuing. If an opposition is filed, the issuance may be delayed for rather longer, if the patent issues at all.

As a general rule, the Applicant may amend ‘scribal errors’ i.e., typos in the specification and may narrow the scope of coverage of the claims, but cannot add material or widen the claims to cover something not previously within their ambit. In practice, applicants often request amendments that are allegedly permissible but which the opposer considers as somehow adding material or widening the monopoly sought. Sometimes amendments are opposed as a delaying tactic as until a patent issues, it cannot be enforced.

In the present instance, the application in question is IL 122546 to Abbvie Inc. titled “COMBINATION OF RITONAVIR AND A DRUG METABOLIZED BY CYTOCHROME P450 MONOXYGENASE AND PHARMACEUTICAL COMPOSITION COMPRISING THE SAME”, which was filed two decades ago on 28 June 1996 by Abbot Laboratories as the national phase of PCT/US1996/0011015 which itself claims priority from a US provisional application (no 60/000654) filed on 29 June 1995. The case was transferred to Abbvie in June 2013.

The case was allowed and published for opposition purposes on 31 January 2012, and on 29 April 2012 oppositions were filed by Vertex Pharmaceuticals and by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries LTD.

Abbvie petitioned to amend the claims and this interim ruling relates to the proposed amendment and examines whether it is supported and whether it is indeed a narrowing of the scope of the claims.

last minuteIn his ruling of 2 May 2016, the Commissioner Asa Kling allowed the amendments to the claims but this is an interim ruling anyway and the patent, if eventually granted, will lapse anyway 20 years from filing on 29th June 2016. This begs the question as to the point of continuing with the opposition?!

The ruling has been carefully translated and is reproduced below but I have added a break as it may not be of interest to everyone…

Read the rest of this entry »


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.

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Can a Patent Opposition be Suspended?

June 14, 2016

On IL 181596 to Insight Biopharmaceuticals LTD titled “PROCESS FOR PREPARATION OF MIXTURES OF POLYPEPTIDES USING PURIFIED HYDROBROMIC ACID” publishing for opposition purposes, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries LTD filed an Opposition.  However, just before publication, Insight filed a Divisional Application (IL 241702).

Teva requested that the Opposition be suspended, pending Examination of the Divisional application claiming that the claims of the two cases are substantially identical and that Insight agreed to the suspension.

Ms Jacqueline Bracha has given Insight 14 days to agree to concur to the request to suspend the Opposition and to explain why it is an appropriate action to take in this case.

 


Where Agent-of-Record Moves, Resulting in Patent Application Lapsing

June 14, 2016

dead

Where no response to an Office Action is received, the Israel Patent Office eventually sends a notice of imminent abandonment to the agent of record and then a month later sends the agent of record a notice of the file closing. Where a patent application is unintentionally abandoned, the Applicant may reinstate within 12 months. Beyond this time-frame, it is more difficult as the Patent Office considers that abandoned applications are in the public domain. But what happens where the Agent of Record does not receive the Notice due to a change of address?

IL 198531 to Cheil Industries INC was filed on 4 May 2009 as the National Phase Entry of PCT/KR/2006/005109 by Hizkiya-Hachmon Law Offices. The Israel Patent Office mistyped the Agent of Record’s name as Hizkiya-Hashmiyon Lawyers. The Deputy Commissioner blamed the lawyers for the mistake since they filled out the Application form with their name in English and not in Hebrew as they should have.

On 17 August 2010, the Agent of Record updated their address in a response to an Office Action.

The Patent Office sent an Office Action on 30 August 2012 and no response was received. Consequently, on 25 June 2013, a reminder was sent, again to the address of record, and when no response was submitted, the Application was deemed abandoned under Section 21 of the Law.

On 24 December 2015, Adv Tal Rosenthal, who works for the Agent of Record, filed a request for an extension for reconsideration, blaming the Israel Patent Office for the case going abandoned. Hizkiya-Hachmon Law Offices argued that they had informed the Patent Office about their address, but the Israel Patent Office had failed to update its records. Since the name of the Agent of Record was wrong, post was not forwarded to them. This prevented them responding in a timely manner. As evidence of their claims, they submitted an envelope with the wrong address that was returned to the Patent Office as undeliverable.

RULING

Sections 21 and 21a of the Israel Patent Law 1967 state:

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

21B. The applicant may cancel his patent application up to the grant of the patent; however, the Registrar may cancel the cancellation on conditions prescribed by him, on condition that he is satisfied that the application was cancelled unlawfully.

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

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

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

The Agent-of-Record is attempting to justify his request by blaming the Israel Patent Office for not updating his address and for getting their name wrong on envelopes sent by the Israel Patent Office.

Regulation 16 obliges the Applicant to provide an address. This may be changed, however in this instance, the Agent of Record has not been able to produce any request to the Israel Patent Office that they update their address. At a hearing on 27 March 2016, the Agent failed to produce any request to change the address of record and failed to show that they had paid the requisite fee. They were given a further 14 days to produce the paperwork but still failed to do so.

Essentially, the Agent of Record could have filed a request to correct the firm’s name and to update their address over a five-year period but failed to do so.

Whilst the response of 17 August 2010 was sent on headed paper bearing the new address, which indicates retroactively that the address had changed, this is insufficient to cause the Israel Patent Office to update its records. Furthermore, in that response the agent-of-record should have noted that the firm’s name and address were wrong and taken steps to rectify this.

Three years had passed from this case going belly up, and the Agent of Record could have checked the status on-line but failed to do so.

(It is also noted that Adv Tal Rosenthal claimed that the firm moved in 2011 and in the summary it transpired that it actually happened in 2010, so not only is the blame wrongly attributed to the Patent Office, but the Agent of Record could not even get their story straight).

In summary, the application went abandoned due to the Agent of Record making numerous mistakes. This makes it difficult to apply Section 164a to reinstate the Application; particularly due to the long period that has passed.  Unlike the  Penoles case (IL 211582) where PCZL requested a change of address of record, but the Israel Patent Office messed up, in this case, the Agent of Record ignored the wrong name of firm and made no effort to update their address.  There is no ‘reasonable grounds’ for reinstatement and the Public Interest is served by finality so something abandoned should stay abandoned. The request for reinstatement is rejected.

 

 


Israel Patent Office Report 2015

June 13, 2016

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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.

 


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