End of an Era

May 26, 2017

Esteemed Out-Going Commissioner Asa Kling writes as follows:

Dear friends, users of the Israel Patent Office services,

As you may very well know, at the end of this month I will be completing the statutory 6 year term as Director of the Israel Patent Office (ILPO), Commissioner of Patents, Designs and Trademarks.

Six years ago I was handed a valuable deposit – the leadership of the ILPO. Since then, as my predecessors before me, I strived to maintain and improve this cherished deposit.

Upon departure, I am leaving a robust and growing patent office. In many ways, the ILPO has become a standard setting unit for the Israel government, as well as an example to other Patent Offices around the world. Alongside the significant improvement in the quality of the examination performed by the ILPO, the shortening of pendencies, the accessibility of the online services and the transparency of the ILPO’s operations, the ILPO enjoys a leading international status as befits a patent office of the Start-Up Nation.

Review of the ILPO’s Annual Reports shows the many changes it has undergone in recent years and the continuous increase in the scope and quality of the services provided to its stakeholders. Just to name a some of these achievements: going paperless and then fully online in all ILPO departments; starting International Searching and Preliminary Examination Authority operations under the PCT and successfully sustaining these international operations; promoting the new Designs bill and adapting the Designs Department operations to the anticipated significant changes in this evolving field; setting a high professional bar in examination of trademark applications while the amounts of international applications have grown immeasurably in view of the operation of the Madrid Protocol; preparing examination guidelines in all departments of the ILPO, while openly publishing them for public review and comment; maintaining full transparency, whether via the annual reports or by the ILPO website; promoting the ILPO’s character as a learning organization; introduction of an innovative employee incentive-pay scheme; organizational changes such as the nomination of team leaders and professional officers; and strengthening ILPO’s international status and in particular at WIPO. We also took an active part in the Governmental Regulation Impact Assessment project whereby we considerably updated many Commissioner’s Circulars and reduced their number, conducted an empirical study of the patent pre-grant opposition procedures in order to stimulate an informed public discussion, and improved the regulation of the Patent Attorney certification process towards a reform in this profession. We grew and evolved!

I owe a debt of gratitude to many. These achievements are actually those of the ILPO’s professional staff and managers who share the vision and bare the brunt on a daily basis. Without the support of the various officers of the Ministry of Justice and of many government units who recognized the importance of these tasks, little of would have transpired. It was a great privilege to lead such a formidable unit in the Israeli civil service.

I wish all success to the incoming Director, Mr. Ofir Alon, who will surely receive all your support and assistance for success in this challenging position and will promote the ILPO to even further heights.

COMMENT

klingonCommisisoner Asa Kling’s tenure did indeed bring many changes and improvements. Things are far more automated at the Israel Patent Office. Many of his decisions showed a great deal of sensitivity to complex issues. We wish him luck as he explores strange new worlds, seeks out new life and new civilizations and boldly go where no man has gone before,

 


Cancellation Proceedings Against an Israel Patent for a Modular Support Bracket

April 6, 2017

Figs for ACMoshe Lavi registered Israel Patent No. 157035 titled “MODULAR SUPPORT BRACKET”. A competitor, Zach Oz Air Conditioning LTD and Zach Raz filed to have the patent cancelled on grounds of invalidity. They seem to have botched the attempt, but I think that this ruling is a poor one.

Background

In the past, Lavi has tried enforcing the patent against Zach Oz Air Conditioning LTD. (Back then, around 2004, I was engaged as an expert witness by Counsel of the Defence, Soroker Agmon. In my Expert Opinion, I argued what is known as ‘the Gilette Defense’ stating that the correct interpretation of the claims was much narrower than that which Lavi and his lawyers Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer Bratz (Pearl-Cohen) was using and Zach Oz’ support bracket was not infringing. Furthermore, if one considered that Zach Oz’ brackets were within the ambit of the claims, the patent would not have issued in the light of the myriad of prior art shelf support brackets.  On the day of the trial, Lavi dropped the charges and Zach Oz agreed not to infringe the patent.

It was not the first time that Pearl-Cohen have tried to assert a patent against a competitor that was not infringing. They tried this in the US on behalf of Source Vagabond against Hydropak. In that instance, the New York District Court fined Pearl-Cohen and the lawyers actively handling the case $187,308.65. That ruling was then Appealed to and upheld by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals).

Frustrated by repeated bullying by Moshe Lavi and Pearl-Cohen, Zach Oz filed a cancellation proceeding against the Israel patent. Confusingly, their Attorney is called Pearl. It is not Zeev Pearl, but another practitioner.

Pearl-Cohen submitted a rather ambitious attempt to have the case thrown out as Zach Oz had not argued invalidity when accused of infringing, and Pearl-Cohen argued that this was a sort of in absentia estoppel since they could have raised the argument back then, and didn’t. The Commissioner threw that argument out, and allowed the cancellation proceeding to proceed.

The cancellation proceeding has now run its course and the following article Read the rest of this entry »


Squaring the Circle and Regulating the IP Profession in Israel

March 24, 2017

I was privileged to participate in a ’round table’ at the Israel Patent Office on Tuesday, on the topic of regulating the Patent Attorney profession. In this article I am going to refer to people without giving their titles such as Dr, Adv. and Patent Attorney, since most people were entitled to two or three such terms, but some aren’t and I don’t want to misrepresent anyone.

Perhaps instead of round table, Quad or Quod would be a better term as there was no table in evidence, and the chairs were laid out in a square, with the Commissioner Asa Kling, Assistant Commissioner Jacqueline Bracha and a legal liaison person from the Ministry of Justice along one side; the  various patent attorneys and the odd lawyer present, being arranged along the other three sides in an open ח shape.

basic instinctThe lack of a table and the open square was, in my case, a little distracting, as opposite me was a peroxide blond streaked patent attorney in a dress with slits up both sides who kept crossing her legs and seemed to be appealing to my Basic Instinct.

Kfir Luzzatto was looking younger than ever, and seemed to have restored his hair by self-hypnosis and meditation. I was thinking that his wife Etty was looking young enough to be his daughter and must also be using self-hypnosis and meditation, and then realized that it was his daughter, Michal, who is the fifth generation of this family firm.

There was a healthy sprinkling of sole-practitioners and senior partners of smaller offices, including Ed Langer, Daniel Feigelston, Simon Kahn, David Agranot, myself, Sinai Yarus and Erez Gur.

There was a number of representatives of Reinhold Cohn including Ronnie Benshafrut and Michal Hackmey. Gal and Amit Ehrlich and Maier Fenster represented their practice, there were some representatives of the Ministry of Justice, Tal Sines from Haddassit, someone from the tech transfer company of one of the universities, and a transcriber who taped the entire meeting. Unfortunately, Ofir Alon of the Technion tech transfer company who has just been appointed the new Commissioner of Patents was absent.

The meeting was friendly and constructive. It highlighted the general perspective of the larger firms that comprised attorneys-at-law and patent attorneys but could not have both as partners and needed creative solutions to practice, versus the smaller firms that felt that some of the regulations under discussion would make it difficult or impossible for them to continue as sole-practitioners. Read the rest of this entry »


New Israel Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks Appointed

March 19, 2017

Ofir AlonThe Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaqued has appointed Attorney and Patent Attorney Ofir Alon as the new Israel Commissioner of Patents, Trademarks and Designs to replace Commssioner Asa Kling who is coming to the end of his six year tenure.

Ofer Alon has degrees in Computer Science and Law from Haifa University. He qualified in IP Law in the Law Offices of Richard Luthi where he worked until 2006 and then became the IP Director and In-House Counsel of “On Track innovations”. Since 2010, Adv Alon has served as the head of Intellectual Property for the Technion’s R&D Tech Transfer Company.

The appointment follows the advice of the Committee for Finding a Suitable Candidate that was headed by Ms Ami Palmor, Director of the Ministry of Justice. Other committee members include Ilan Ram the Director of the Senior Civil Servants Organization, the Chief Scientist Avi Hasson, Professor Orit Fishman Afori – Dean of the Law School of Michlelet Minhal and Academic Representative and Retired Justice Izaak Engelhard serving as the public representative (which seems innappropriate to me – judges can represent the judiciary. The public is best represented by the layman. Maybe in this instance, a local serial inventor?).

According to the press-release, the committee were impressed with his developed views and vision regarding the Patent Office, its activities and its challenges, and with his plans for its international activities.

Comment

We note that with the appointment of Outgoing Commissioner Asa Kling the make up of the committee remained confidential. This led to rumours of cronyism between the judge allegedly chairing the committee and Judge Kling, the commissioner’s father. I cannot comment on whether these rulings were well-founded or baseless, but was very impressed with the outgoing commissioner’s rulings.

In this instance, the identity of the committee members has been published. We see this as a welcome step towards greater transparency. We are pleased that the committee were impressed with Adv Alon’s plans, however the press-releases do not explain what these plans are. We also do not know whether any other candidates were considered and if so, who the other candidates were. What was clear was that the published advertisements in the newspapers gave very short deadlines from responding, raising suspicions that this was a political appointment. A candidate with vision and proven management skills seems a very good idea. He will however also require judicial competence.

Mover-and-Shaker Kim Lindy claims to have helped Ofir Alon receive his appointment to the Technion Tech Transfer Company. However, she denies having influenced his appointment as commissioner.

In general, I am impressed with Minister Shaqued’s judicial appointments and her attempts to broaden the Supreme Bench to be more representative and heterogeneous. I also think the Commissioner should be more or less formalistic in his approach to IP rulings. That said, I have no ideas what Ofir Alon’s views are regarding IP issues or indeed, on other legal or political issues.

under the watch of the last two commissioners the Israel Patent Office has been revolutionized, and it is now fully computerized. There is pending legislation concerning designs, and proposed legislation to put the profession of patent attorneys onto a stronger legal footing. The patent office is now a profit generating, efficient and professional body. We wish the new commissioner luck and hope he takes the organization forwards to new heights.

 


Online Design Filing in Israel

December 22, 2016

ilpo

The Israel Patent Office held a seminar today to introduce their new online design submission interface. Over the past five years the Israel Patent Office has gradually introduced online trademark, PCT and patent filing and prosecution and has published guidelines for examiners, which help applicants and their representatives.

The Design Department is the last department to become fully computerized, and, if all goes well, the interface will become ‘live’ on 29 December 2016.

alferd_teeThere were some 50 participants at the seminar. These included veteran Patent Attorney and Rabbi, Alfred Thee, known generally as Mr T, who, though rather less muscular and black than the character from the A Team, is, nevertheless, a very sprightly and highly experienced 85 year-old practitioner that I had the benefit of training and qualifying under. Mr T told me that he was finally leaving his long-term employment at Seligsohn & Gabrieli at the end of the year, but would carry on working as a self-employed consultant. I anticipate retiring before he does!

In addition to various friends, colleagues and competitors, I noted the presence of Zvi Teff who qualified under my tutelage, and who has recently opened his own firm. We wish him luck with this endeavour.

aippiThe seminar ran from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Those that could be bothered rushed over to Tel Aviv for a General Meeting of the AIPPI that started at 2:30 PM. Holding the two events on the same day seemed to be both rather silly and also discriminatory against those practitioners that file design applications.  Had the AIPPI held their event at the Israel Patent Office at 2:30, many more people would have attended both events. There are only a few hundred IP practitioners in Israel, including lawyers, examiners and patent attorneys, that could join the Israel Branch of the AIPPI. Doing a General Meeting on the same day as an IP seminar at the Patent Office is like holding a general meeting during INTA. It is plain stupid.

Commissioner Kling opened the event and spoke about the pending Israel Design Law which is due to replace the hopelessly outdated Design Ordinance from 1922 that is currently in force. Amongst other ramifications of the pending legislation, it will pave the way for Israel to join the Hague International trademark registration system.

After the Commissioner finished, the Head of the Design Department, Alice Mahlis-Abramovich took the podium. However, the actual instruction on the new interface was given by someone from a software instruction agency who bore a slight resemblance to Israeli singer Roni Dalumi. Having someone who was used to explaining how to use software explaining how to use the software was a strategy with mixed results. Since she didn’t practice design law, she could relate to what the software did, but not how to do various things that practitioners might want it to do. Also, she referred to something submitted as being a design, whereas practitioners would call these design applications, and only refer to the examined and registered product as a ‘design.’

Those now familiar with filing and prosecuting patent applications via the online interface will experience little difficulty using design interface. The seminar wasn’t very exciting, but some of the questions were rather interesting. Apparently one of my colleagues submits patent applications, listing a-company-in-the-process-of-being-set-up as the applicant to avoid a tax incident occurring. That as may be, a not yet formed company is not a real person or a legal person (entity). If the company is not formed or if the name changes, who can assign rights to the application? How can one obtain a date without an applicant that actually exists?


Goldberg Prize for IP Paper in Hebrew

December 11, 2016

prize-money

Tel Aviv University’s Shin Horowitz Institute for Intellectual Property in the name of Amnon Goldberg has issued a call for papers for the Goldberg Prize for IP Paper in Hebrew. The deadline for submission is 1 February 2017. There are two categories: researchers can win a 4000 Shekel prize and students can win a 2000 Shekel prize. For more details see here: goldberg_prize


Israel Patent Office Closures – October 2016

September 28, 2016

The Israel Patent Office is closed on Fridays and Saturdays. It is also closed on Jewish Holidays, including Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Suckot, and the day before.

The following list sums up when the Israel Patent Office is closed:

DATE Israel Patent Office
Fri. Sept. 30, 2016 Closed
Sun.   Oct. 2, 2016 Closed
Mon. Oct 3,   2016 Closed
 Tues. Oct. 4, 2016 Closed
Tues. Oct.11, 2016 Closed
Wed. Oct.12, 2016 Closed
Fri. Oct. 14, 2016 Closed
Sun.  Oct. 16, 2016 Closed
Mon.    Oct. 17, 2016 Closed
Tues. Oct. 18, 2016 Closed
Wed. Oct .19, 2016 Closed
Thurs. Oct 20, 2016 Closed
Fri.  Oct.21 2016 Closed
Sun. Oct.23, 2016 Closed
Mon. Oct.24, 2016 Closed

 

The Chinese Patent Office is closed in the first week of October – from 1 October to 7 October.

On Monday October 3, is the Islamic New Year as well as Rosh Hashana and a number of Patent Offices are closed. The EPO in Munich and the German Patent Office are closed for German Unity Day.

On Oct 8-10, the Japanese Patent Office is closed for Sports Day.

A number of Arab Country Patent Offices and also the Indian Patent Offices are closed on October 11-12, presumably in celebration of Yom Kippur.

October 30 is Diwali and possibly patent offices in Hindu countries are closed. It is also a Sunday, so although the Israel Patent Office is open, many others are not.

October 31 is Halloween (Night of All Saints). I am unaware of official closures, but druid associates may be unavailable.

A marked up calendar showing the various office closures may be found october-calendar-2016.

When a deadline falls on a day that a patent office is closed, typically the deadline is extended to the next working day. This is the case in Israel, US, EPO, etc. I can’t be certain regarding all jurisdictions. It is true for design and trademark prosecution and renewals, not just for patents.

This could be useful if a PCT application is not ready for filing on time. For instance, a PCT application claiming priority from an application filed on 14th October 2015 could be filed with the Israel Patent Office as the receiving office on 25 October 2016. It doesn’t matter that on 14, 16, 18-21 or 23, or even after nightfall on 15, 17, 22, or 24 an Observant Jewish Israeli Patent Attorney could file online. Associates around the world wishing to capitalize on this could make an Israel associate (like me) a co-owner in a jurisdiction of little commercial interest, such as Trinidad and Tobago (no offense intended) and then the PCT application could be filed in Israel and would be considered timely filed and the priority date would be recognized. Worth bearing in mind.

We take this opportunity to wish all clients, colleagues and readers, a Happy New Year and to humbly ask forgiveness for any innacuracies in or offence caused by any IP Factor blog post.