Retroactive Extension Granted for Reporting a Lecture Disclosing a Patent Application Prior to Filing

October 10, 2017

Background

retroactivePatentability requires that a patent is novel, inventive and useful at the priority date, which is the effective filing date.

The Novelty requirement is absolute, but there are three exceptions given in Section 6 of the Israel Patent Law 1967:

  1. A publication of the invention without consent of the patentee is not novelty destroying, provided that patentee files an patent application promptly on learning about the publication;
  2. Display at a exhibition is not novelty destroying, provided a patent application is filed within six months;
  3. A scientific lecture is not novelty destroying, , provided the registrar was given advanced warning and a patent application is filed within six months.

Section 164 gives the Registrar (Commissioner) wide discretionary powers to extend missed deadlines.

In this ruling, the Deputy Commissioner considers whether the advanced warning of Section 6(3) can be extended retroactively under the discretionary powers given by Section 164, i.e. if the Applicant can inform the Commissioner of a scientific lecture post facto and pay extension fees, so that the lecture by the inventor is not considered as novelty destroying prior art.

The Case

Japan flagOn 6 March 2012, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. filed Israel Patent Application Number 218495 as a National Phase Entry of PCT/JP2010/053032 titled “Therapeutic Agent for Chronic Pain” that was itself filed on 26 February 2010. The PCT application claimed priority from JP 2009-211021 filed on 11 September 2009.

On 27 August 2009, i.e. before the priority date, the “Conference Proceedings of the 69th Tohoku District Meeting of the Japanese Society of Psychosomatic Medicine” were published. One of these was titled  “An example of complete response of ariprazole against refractory head and neck pain associated with depression”.

A significant amount of the scientific work that was the basis of the patent application and of the conference paper was disclosed in a lecture on 12 September 2009. The Patentee claims that the PCT application was filed within six months of the abstract, and claims priority from the priority application and so the PCT application benefits from the grace period under Section 30 of the Japanese Patent Law.

On 22 July 2010, prior to entering the national stage in Israel, the Agent for Applicant requested an extension to the deadline of Section 6(3). The Head of the PCT Department refused this, since the notification of the publication was not provided in advance, and he considered that only time limits given in the Law can be extended.

On 15 August 2010, the Applicant responded that they would file a second request on entering the national stage into Israel and would provide written and verbal arguments justifying an exception, and, on 16 May 2011, a further notice refusing the extension was issued by the patent office.

On subsequently entering the National Phase into Israel, and with reference to Section 48D(a) of the Law, the Applicant noted that, prior to entering the national phase into Israel, they had requested an extension to Section 6(3), and appended the decision of 16 May 2011.

During the Examination, the abstract from 27 August 2009 was cited against the claimed invention as being novelty destroying. Consequently, the Applicant requested a hearing to discuss whether the Section 6(3) deadline is extendible and, if so, whether the circumstances in question justify the Commissioner retroactively extending the deadline under section 164.

Discussion

Sections 6 and 164 are reproduced below:

  1. The right of the owner of an invention to be granted a patent shall not be affected by publication said in section 4—

(1) if it is proved that the matter published was obtained from him the owner of the invention or his predecessor in title and was published without his consent, and if the patent application was filed within a reasonable time after the publication became known to the applicant; or

(2)(a) the publication was by the owner of the invention or his predecessor in title in one of the following ways:

(i) display at an industrial or agricultural exhibition in Israel or at a recognized exhibition in one of the Convention States, of which official notice was given to the Registrar before its opening;

(ii) publication of a description of the invention at the time of a said exhibition;

(iii) use of the invention for the purposes of the exhibition and at the place of the exhibition;

(b) the publication was by use of the invention, even without its owners’ consent, at the time of the exhibition, at the place of the exhibition or outside it, on condition that the patent application was submitted within six months after the exhibition opened;

(3) publication was by way of a lecture by the inventor before a scientific society or by publication of the lecture in official transactions of the society, on condition that the Registrar was given notice of the lecture before it was delivered and that the patent application is filed within six months after the aforesaid publication.

Section 6(3) lists three conditions, that if fulfilled, render the prior publication as not damaging to the patentability of the patent. The first condition relates to the nature of the publication and to the reasons for it happening. In this instance, it relates to a lecture by the inventor before a scientific society or the publication of the lecture in the formal society conference proceedings. There is no doubt that the publication in question fulfills these conditions.

The third condition relates to the period from which the publication occurs and the date of filing of the patent. The proceedings were published on 27 August 2009, and the international publication was on the 26 February 2010. The Applicant claims that one should see the date of filing of the PCT Application designating Israel, as being the date as far as Section 6(3) is concerned. The Deputy Commissioner, Ms Jacqueline Bracha considers that the Applicant is correct in this regard.

Section 48(c) of the Law is an exception to Section 15 that states that a PCT Application designating Israel, receives a date as per the PCT Convention:

48C. The provisions of this Law shall apply to applications addressed to Israel, with the changes specified in this Chapter and with the changes specified below:

(1) the provisions of sections 11, 14, 15, 17(a) and 20 shall not apply;

(2) the provisions of section 16 shall apply to an application, in respect of which the applicant met the conditions prescribed in section 48D;

(3) the date of the application shall be determined in accordance with the provisions of the Convention;

(4) the provisions of section 165(a) shall not apply to information published under the Convention in respect of applications;

(5) notwithstanding the provisions of section 168(a), documents published according to the Convention in respect of applications shall be open for public inspection.

In accordance with Section 11(3) of the PCT Conventions, the filing date of the PCT application is considered as the National Entry Date in all designated states:

(3)  Subject to Article 64(4), any international application fulfilling the requirements listed in items (i) to (iii) of paragraph (1) and accorded an international filing date shall have the effect of a regular national application in each designated State as of the international filing date, which date shall be considered to be the actual filing date in each designated State.”

In light of this, the effective filing date in Israel is the filing date of the PCT Application designating Israel, and so the Applicant has fulfilled Section 6(3) of the Law.

The Applicant does not dispute that he did not fulfill the second condition requiring informing the Commissioner of the lecture before it happened. However, he alleges that it is within the Commissioner’s Authority to extend this deadline using the powers granted to him under Section 164 of the Law.

Patent Deadlines are generally extendible, apart from the deadline for filing an opposition, the deadline at which a patent lapses (but can be restored), the grace period for renewals, and deadlines relating to patent term extensions. Other than these, the Registrar (Commissioner) has wide discretion to grant extensions. This is clear from Section 164 of the Law, repeated below:

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; however, for purposes of section 10—

(1) the Registrar shall not extend the time prescribed by subsection (a)(1), unless he is satisfied that the application in Israel was not submitted on time because of circumstances over which the applicant and his representative had no control and which could not be prevented;

(2) the Registrar shall extend the time prescribed by subsection (a)(2) only as long as the application has not yet been accepted and if he is satisfied that a mistake was made innocently.

(3)The Registrar may make the extension of times conditional on conditions as he deems fit.

(c) An application for extension of a time may be submitted within the time or after it.

(d)Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a) and (b) and the provisions of any other Law, if the last day of the period prescribed in section 10(a)(1) falls on a .day that is not a work day, then the period shall end on the first work day thereafter; this provisions does not derogate from the power to extend beyond the time prescribed in section 10(a)(1).

The Examiner considered that this condition is not a deadline that can be extended and so the Commissioner does not have jurisdiction under Section 164.

The Deputy Commissioner notes that as far as the publication in question is concerned, the Applicant acted in good faith opposite the Patent Office. Firstly, even before entering the national phase the Applicant requested an extension to inform the patent office, when filing, he noted the request on the Application form and listed the reference in the list of disclosed prior art in accordance with the duty of disclosure under Section 18 of the Law. When discussing the requirement in the hearing, the question arose as to whether the Applicant should have appealed Dr Bart’s ruling. Perhaps the Applicant should have Appealed under Section 161 but the Deputy Commissioner does not consider it too late to discuss the issue substantively, nor does she consider the failure to appeal as being inequitable behavior.

The main issue under discussion, is whether the requirement to provide advanced knowledge of a publication is a deadline that can be retroactively extended under section 161, i.e. whether this is an exception to the rule.

To answer this question, it appears appropriate to consider the underlying purpose of the condition and its source. Section 11 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Intellectual Property 1883 states that the signatory states should provide temporary protection for a period not exceeding that defined in section 4 of the Convention (grace period) for displaying an invention or design at an official exhibition. Indeed, allowing exhibited goods to be protected was one of the aims of the convention:

“(a) Since lack or inadequacy of protection of industrial property at international exhibitions was one of the reasons which promoted the conclusion of the Convention, it is natural that the principle of such protection should already have been included in the original text of the Convention of 1883. It was then the intention to oblige the member States to take necessary legislative measures to that effect but to leave them free in determining the ways and means of achieving this end.”

GHC Bodenhausen Guide to the Application of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, as Revised at Stockholm in 1967 (1968) page 149.

Since the individual states had wide discretion regarding their national legislation and the administrative requirements for obtaining this protection, the basis for the pre-exhibition notice, which is largely unique to Israel, is not part of the convention itself. Additionally, examination of the pre legislative proposed law does not provide an explanation.

The Law in many jurisdictions does not require a pre Exhibition notice of intent to exhibit to be submitted to the patent office. The Japanese Patent Office requires sub mission of the patent application together with a notice within six months of the exhibition. (See Hiroya Kawaguchi “The Essentials of Japanese Patent Law” (2007) p. 31.

A similar requirement for submitting a the notice of an exhibition together with the application is found in Section 55 of the European Patent Convention:

“(1) For the application of Article 54, a disclosure of the invention shall not be taken into consideration if it occurred no earlier than six months preceding the filing of the European patent application and if it was due to, or in consequence of:

(a) an evident abuse in relation to the applicant or his legal predecessor, or

(b) the fact that the applicant or his legal predecessor has displayed the invention at an official, or officially recognized, international exhibition falling within the terms of the Convention on international exhibitions signed at Paris on 22 November 1928 and last revised on 30 November 1972.

(2) In the case of paragraph 1(b), paragraph 1 shall apply only if the applicant states, when filing the European patent application, that the invention has been so displayed and files a supporting certificate within the time limit and under the conditions laid down in the Implementing Regulations.”

In the US, the exhibition of the invention is part of the one year general grace period for inventor disclosures – See §35 US Section 102b of the US Patent Law and Daniel J. Gervais International Intellectual Property: A Handbook of Contemporary Research (2015) p.45.

From here it is clear that the Israel Law is somewhat unique in requiring prior notification. In light of the difference between the Laws and the legislative being silent regarding whether or not this period can be extended, the question of the interest that the Israel Law intended to protect by requiring prior notification of exhibition or lecture becomes important.

There are three possible purposes that come to mind.

  1. One possibility is to protect the inventor who, prior to exhibiting or lecturing, must determine that the exhibit or lecture will not damage his future protection. By providing notification, the Commissioner can obtain the disclosure and will be reminded of the Section 6 exception. If the inventor does not receive the authorization to exhibit, he can quickly file an Application before the publication. This paternalistic rationale, even if a positive thing, is somewhat exceptional on the IP horizon.
  2. Another possible purpose is certainty of the public regarding whether a prior disclosure is legally and not merely factually novelty disclosing or not. In other words, the public wishes to know as early as possible, if an invention is to be patent protected or if it is in the public domain. Even if this is an appropriate aim, it is not achieved by the requirement for earlier registration under section 6(3) of the Law, since such notification is not known to the public prior to the patent application becoming available for public inspection 18 months after filing (and until fairly recently, only on allowance). At the time that the patent file wrapper is available for inspection, it makes no difference if the Patent Office was informed of the exhibition or lecture in advance or after the event. Thus the public reliance on publication is different from the reliance on national phase entry which interested parties can and do follow, see for example, 23511-05-12 Mindcake LLC vs. Israel Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks, 17 January 2013:

Thus, the extension of the national phase entry deadline is a matter of significance, since when this date passes, the invention is immediately transferred from the patentee to the public domain, who is allowed to make use of the invention according to their will.

In this instance, we cannot assume that this reliance is relevant since the public learn about the exhibition approval long after it has issued, so long as it is before the patent wrapper itself is open for inspection.

3.A third aim might be to provide the Commissioner with the tools to determine whether a prior art publication is indeed at a scientific or recognized exhibition or not. For such an aim, the Deputy Commissioner does not consider that prior notice makes much difference. The onus is on the patentee to convince the Commissioner, who is not required to make investigations. So in cases where the Applicant is unable to convince the Commissioner that the exhibition should not be novelty destroying, his request will be refused. From here it is clear that any evidentiary problems will work against the Applicant and we therefore return to the first suggestion that the purpose is to protect the Applicant.

This is not the first time that the Court of the Patent Office has considered this issue. In re IL 68447 to Byong Wha Suh (published on 29 February 1984), the Commissioner was petitioned to extend the Section 6 time-frame. After considering the European Patent Law, the Commissioner reasoned that one could indeed extend the deadline for informing the ILPO and reasoned as follows:

“We state immediately that in our Opinion, section 164a of the Israel Patent Law is sufficiently broad to allow the Section 6(2)(a)(1) deadline to be extended.
The Section allows deadlines that are stated in the Patent Law or the Regulations to be extended, and the wording is not limited to procedural deadlines (such as the deadlines for filing and responding in contentious proceedings), but also allows extensions of deadlines that can affect the validity of a patent. This can be learned from the wording of Section 164 which specifically excludes extending deadlines for paying renewal fees for lapsed patents. This teaches that the legislative body did not see fit to prohibit other deadlines being extended at the Commissioner’s discretion.

It is true that there is no positive reference to Section 6(3) in Section 164 of the Law. Section 164 does, however, allow the Commissioner to retroactively allow extensions. The Applicant is correct in his claim that “so long as the Commissioner receives notification of the lecture before it is given” relates to time limits, even if not explicitly. It is also clear that this time passes with the lecture and so any time thereafter misses the stated deadline for the action.

To the extent that the advanced deadline is paternalistic, prohibiting extending the time limit will not enable the intent to be achieved. From here, the Deputy Commissioner deduces that the Commissioner (and by transfer of powers, she herself) has the authorization to extend the time limit.

It is true that the Commissioner has wide discretionary powers under Section 164, the extent of which changes with circumstances. Application of Section 164(a) to give a retroactive extension will be depend on the nature of the process, the specific circumstances, and the weighing up of the Applicant’s interest and the public’s interest. See Appeal 2826/04 Recordati Ireland Ltd vs. Commissioner of Patents, 28 October 2004.

Section 164 of the Law, cited above, that allows the Commissioner to extend deadlines, does not extend to all of the dictates of the Patent Law (for details of the things that the Commissioner does not have discretion to extend deadlines, see Friedman page 172-178). In this instance, the Court of First Instance correctly noted that the Commissioner can extend deadlines before or after they pass, as stated in section 164(c), so long as he sees a reasonable justification for so doing, but the issue is not one of legal authority, but rather of the correct use of that authority. In Appeal 248/95 Fabio Perini S.P.A v. Industrie Meccaniche Alberto Consani S.P.A., Judge Winograd considered the correct interpretation of Section 164 of the Law (in the original version prior to the third amendment). The Court supported the liberal interpretation granting extensions for filing Oppositions, stating that Opposer serves the public interest and the integrity of the Register, and not merely his own interest by filing Oppositions, and the range of things that the Commissioner is allowed to extend is wide.

As ruled in the IL 110548 Opposition Shmuel Sadovski vs. Hugla Kimberly Marketing Ltd. (12 August 2010), the relevant considerations for deciding that a justification is reasonable is the extent of the delay and the explanation for it. The extent of the delay can affect not just the perceived behavior of the Applicant and whether it is reasonable, but also whether the public can be considered to have relied on that behavior.

In this instance, the Applicant first approached the committee with explanations that do not seem unreasonable. The difference between the Israel Patent Law and that in Japan and many other countries goes a long way to justify the mistake made. Indeed, the Applicant made a submission via their attorneys, prior to entering the national phase so as to address the issue as early as possible. As to third parties relying on the delay, it does not seem that this can be construed as being in any way connected to them not contacting the Patent Office prior to the lecture, as explained hereinabove.

Nevertheless, this ruling is given ex-partes at the request of the Applicant, without the public being represented, and at this stage third parties do not have standing. Third party standing will only occur if and when the patent is allowed. In light of the above, the Deputy Commissioner rules that the application can continue to examination without the prior publication in the form of the lecture acting as novelty destroying prior art, using discretion under Section 164 (b) of the law which states “The Commissioner is authorized to extend deadlines as he sees fit”.

Conclusion

The request is accepted and the deadline for informing the patent office is retroactively extended on condition that a fee be paid from the time of the publication of the Application having been filed on 27 August 2009, until the national phase entry into Israel on 6 March 2012. It is noted that the submitted notice that informed the patent office of the prior disclosure was rejected by the Examiner, and the Applicant could have appealed that decision within 30 days, so extension fees would anyway be due.

The retroactive extension is granted contingent on any Oppositions submitted after allowance being considered on their merit, with the issue of this extension being considered legitimate grounds for inter-partes challenge.

Ruling by Ms Jacqueline Bracha re Section 6 publication of IL 218495, 24 September 2017


Changing of the Guard

July 11, 2017

changingThe various professional organizations representing the IP profession in Israel (LES, AIPPI and IPAA) cosponsored a reception to honour outgoing Commissioner Asa Kling and incoming commissioner Alon Ophir.

The event was held on Sunday in the Israel Yaffe conference center just North of Tel Aviv.

As an IP blogger, I felt obliged to attend and to write about the event. However, it was singularly non-memorable.

About 90 practitioners turned up, including some of the senior members of the profession that rarely patronize IP events. Other senior members were absent. This could, however, be due to vacations and the like.

dinosaurNachman Cohen-Zedek, as the last of the dinosaurs, spoke some words of introduction. I could not tell what he said, and nor could the other participants sitting in my area. The acoustics were poor and most of the speakers forgot to talk into the microphone. Asa used a projector to show a power-point presentation, however, it was out of focus and poorly illuminated, so apart from noting that the talk was illustrated with a steady increase in pink clouds with writing on them, I can’t actually report what he spoke about.

TOMERAs he is wont to do at various events, Dr Zebulum Tomer took the microphone, ostensibly to ask a question but in practice to give a little speech. He clearly believes that his one man crusade against poor pharmaceutical patents is a public service, which it is. However, those developing drugs are also serving a public interest. I don’t think anyone needed reminding that he is not an attorney but an industrialist. He reminds everyone at all events. The lawyers present generally look down on industrialists, and are certainly jealous of his competence in opposing patents which outshone that of anyone present.  The patent attorneys probably were a little jealous, still half wishing we actually made something instead of pushing paper.

Alon OphirThe person compering the event noted that Alon Ophir is the second commissioner named Ophir and that we will have to relate to him as Ophir the Second or some such to avoid confusion. This was a reference to former Commissioner Martin Oppenheimer who Hebracised his name to Michael Ophir. Commissioner Ophir seemed very young. He is a Kippa wearing practitioner which fueled speculation about whether his appointment reflected activism in Bayit Yehudi, the political party that the Minister of Justice represents. The press releases about Commissioner Ophir’s appointment mentioned how impressed the committee was regarding his vision. I was disappointed that he did not explain what his vision was. He noted that obviously outgoing Commisioner Kling did a great job, what does seem to be his focus is in decreasing pendencies and making the patent office ever more efficient. He expressed surprise and disappointment that more Israeli applicants were not first filing in Israel and accelerating examination to get an opinion before having to file abroad and applying the discount when filing PCT applications. He attributed the failure to ‘probably inertia’. Whilst accepting that some practitioners do use time-honoured strategies without consideration of changes, I don’t think this is the whole answer, and hope that the commissioner tries to listen and discuss with the profession instead of assuming that they are all lazy. I had to leave early as I had a ride with another attorney, who on leaving the hall early told me that we would be stuck in traffic. I suggested that perhaps we should go back in and leave later. He thought for a minute and said that he’d prefer to be stuck in traffic. I think this says it all.

With the attraction of introducing a new commissioner and thanking his predecessor, and with July being generally a quiet month, this was an opportunity to hold a stimulating event with the participation of some of the senior practitioners. The organizers chose to invite paid up members instead of reaching out to potential members, and did not consider how to make the event fun or intellectually stimulating. I think this is a shame and a lost opportunity.  It was however, correct and proper that an event happened.

I went on to a Bat Mitzva party. The 12 year-old girl celebrated by completing a tractate of the Talmud. it was the type of event where friends of the parents are Western immigrants with higher degrees and there were a number of patent attorneys present. One noted that his clients filed patent applications in Israel but did not want to speed up examination, and he thought that the changes in recent years whereby one cannot simply suspend examination indefinitely and cannot suspend at all without paying to do so, were commissioner efficiency drives that served no purpose. Readers in the know will not be surprised to learn that the practitioner was ex Fenster & Fenster. This approach, which enabled amending the spec and claims in light of infringers and deferring prosecution and allowance unless a patent was needed, was, though legal, nevertheless an abuse of the system. However, it does emphasize that practitioners are supposed to work the system for the benefit of their clients. Commissioners are supposed to ensure that the system works efficiently and such abuses don’t take place. We are on different sides of the fence.


Patent Office Closures for Pesach

April 2, 2017
seder table
Because of the upcoming Pesach (Passover) holidays theIsrael Patent and Trademark Office (ILPTO) will be closed from Monday, April 10, 2017 – Monday, April 17, 2017 (inclusive).
In general, when a deadline falls on a day that the patent office is closed, the deadline is extended to the first subsequent working day, so any deadline for submissions, including PCT applications, national phase entries and Paris Convention deadlines falling from 10th April to 17th April can be submitted on 18th April 2017.
Note, the Patent Office is always closed on Fridays and Saturdays so will be closed on 7th and 8th of April, BUT since Sunday is a regular working day and so deadlines falling on 7, 8 or 9th April must be filed on 9th April.
Additional Israel Patent Office closures are as follows:
  • Israel Independence Day on Tuesday, May 2, 2017
  • Shavuot (Pentecost – the Feast of Weeks) –  Tuesday, May 30, 2017 and Wednesday, May 31, 2017.

Requesting a patent allowance to be cancelled

January 8, 2017

reconsideration

Israel Patent Number 219586 to Fritz Collischan & Co. KG was allowed. The patent is titled “DEVICE FOR COUNTING OBJECTS FED AS BULK MATERIAL”and is the national phase entry into Israel of PCT/EP2010/067146 which published as WO2011/054974.

In a rather surprising move, Data Detection Technologies Inc, represented by Pearl Cohen Tzedek Latzer Brats requested that the allowance of the patent be cancelled. Actually this is not the first request of this type, for the present patent.  Back on 9 March 2015, following a request to have the allowance withdrawn on grounds that the applicant did not provide a list of prior art as required to under Section 18 of the Law, the same third party requested that the patent be disallowed, and on that occasion, the Applicant agreed for it to be returned to a state of pending allowance. Following that episode, the now pending patent application was returned to the Examiner and eventually was allowed on 29 September 2016 and published for Opposition purposes under Section 26 of the Law. Data Detection Technologies Inc have again requested that the case be returned to the Examiner as they have found additional citations and video clips that they claim reveal the invention and which were sent by themselves to the Applicant some month before allowance.

Despite bringing the additional material to the Applicant’s attention, the Applicants did not make this art of record and the patent was eventually allowed under Section 17c, on the basis of a corresponding issued patent (which presumably itself issued without the Examiner thereof considering the video clips and publications submitted by Data Detection Technologies Inc. Data Detection Technologies Inc argued that this failure is sufficient to prevent the patent issuing under Section 18c of the Law. Alternatively, since the citations are central to the patentability of the invention, Data Detection Technologies Inc considers that minimally the patent be returned to the Examiner for further Examination.

Data Detection Technologies Inc considers it inappropriate for them to have to fight an expensive opposition proceedings which was caused by the applicant failing in their duty of disclosure.

The Applicant claims that the appropriate way to raise issues relating to the duty of disclosure is via an opposition proceedings, and the arguments submitted by Data Detection Technologies relate to grounds for Opposition under Section 31 of the Law. The Applicant posits that withdrawal of allowance is an appropriate measure only in those rare cases where the decision to allow was flawed, or where a letter of allowance was issued by mistake. The Applicant does not consider this to be such a case.

The Applicant notes that the additional material was collected in an opposition proceeding that Fritz Collischan is fighting against an allowed patent of Data Detection Technologies. In that proceeding, Data Detection Technologies Inc requested an extension to respond to the Opposition and to amend the specification. The Applicant submits that the extension was applied for in bad faith and with factual inaccuracies in the justifications given. The Applicant further submits that the  Affidavit includes hearsay that is not acceptable as evidence.

Ruling

The parties concur that the Commissioner may cancel a notice of allowance and return an application to the Examiner if there is a major flaw in the decision to allow the patent. This authority is derived from Section 15 of the Law of Interpretation 1981 and was adopted by the patent office in the previous ruling concerning Data Detection vs. Collischan from 9 March 2015 and also in the Cellular Dynamics vs. Christopher Reed ruling from 29 April 2014.

The argument is whether the current situation is one where it is appropriate for the Commissioner to exercise their authority and to withdraw the notice of allowance, or whether the appropriate action is for Data Detection Technologies Inc to file an Opposition under Section 31 of the Patent Law 1967?

The Deputy Commissioner, Ms Jacqueline Bracha considers that the choice of appropriate course of action is to be found in the purposes of the two courses, which are also derived from their different ways of being initiated. The authority under Section 15 of the Law of Interpretation is something initiated by the administrative body to correct a mistake that they made in an earlier decision or t as a result of a change of circumstances, as an exceptional course of action where there is no other appropriate recourse authorized by the law (See Y. Zamir, Government Authority (1996) pages 1003-1006. In contradistinction, the purpose of the Opposition proceeding is to critique the Examination and to continue the Examination of a patent application in an inter-partes procedure initiated by the third party (see the Israel Patent Office Ruling re IL 136482 Bromium Compounds Ltd vs Albermarle Corporation of 7 November 2010.

 With all due respect, I consider that the courts approach has changed since then, and nowadays the Supreme Court considers the Opposition procedure as being complimentary to and a completion of the Examination since it is intended to serve the public interest and the accuracy of the register.

In the framework of cancellation of an allowance the amount that the public would have relied on the notice of allowance and the type of mistake that resulted in the allowance are to be considered. However, it should be appreciated that not ALL mistakes justify the cancellation of an administrative decision. A mistaken decision based on consideration of the facts and simply reaching the wrong conclusion, will not, in general, justify changing an administrative decision (see Zamir on page 1006). The Authority will generally reach this result in cases where there is a suspicion that someone has been awarded more than he deserves. Such a suspicion is not sufficient to justify cancelling the benefit by the  government body (see Zamir on Page 1007).

In contradistinction to the civil proceeding to cancel an administrative  decision, the Opposition is an adversarial judicial proceeding or sub-judicial proceeding that allows the parties to bring evidence in accordance with the law of evidence, allows opposing counsel to cross-examine witnesses and enables the patent office to come to a reasoned decision. In such a proceeding, the Patent Authority is not limited by the administrative decision and he can reexamine the patentability of the invention in light of the evidence and claims before it, even apart from the considerations that the Examiner used in reaching the decision of allowance.

From the above it is clear that where a mistake in a decision is not self-evident and requires substantive clarification, the administrative decision to cancel the allowance is inappropriate.

In this instance, to determine whether the applicant is required to alert the Examiner about the publications that Data Detection mention, one has to see whether the publications “relate directly to the invention” as required by Section 19(a)2 of the Patent Law. To do this, it is necessary to listen to the claims and evidence of the parties regarding the nature of the invention.

Even if a decision is reached that the Applicant should indeed have made these publications of record under the duty of disclosure, it is necessary to consider if a failure to have done so can be dealt with by the alternatives in Section 18 or if the decision to allow the patent [to proceed for opposition purposes] should be cancelled. In this regard, to the extent that a publication allegedly shows the patent being demonstrated or implemented, the Examiner is not duty bound to consider it.  Section 17b of the Law states that:

(a) an Examiner will consider if the Examination answers all the following:
(1) is for an invention considered patentable under Chapter 2;
….
(b) despite section (a)(1), there is no obligation to examine patentability in accordance with Section 4(2). 

In summary, the Deputy Commissioner Ms Bracha does not consider that the present case is a mistake that warrants cancellation of the Notice of Allowance and does not see how the legal and factual issues can be considered in a decision to cancel the allowance and how this advances the case to a final decision on patentability.

The final claim of Data Detection Technologies Inc, that Applicant’s failure to make art of record should not oblige them to enter a lengthy and costly opposition proceeding. It is true that oppositions are lengthy and the regulations provide at least 16 months from initiation of an opposition until a hearing is scheduled. The parties may request extensions and interim decisions, to correct the specification and more. Nevertheless, the Opposer can submit their evidence on filing their statement of case, thereby significantly shortening the procedure. Furthermore, on conclusion of the opposition, the prevailing party is awarded actual costs, if they are essential, reasonable and proportional See Bagatz 891/05 Tnuva Agricultural Cooperative vs. the Authority for Granting Import licenses, p/d/ 60(a) 600. From here it is clear that if Data Detection Technologies Inc are right, they can expense appropriate compensation.

Therefore it is not considered that the decision to allow the patent was clearly erroneous, justifying its cancellation without a factual inquiry, and it is precisely the anticipated costs that are incurred by an opposer for conducting an opposition that tilts the balance towards holding an opposition proceeding.

As an afterword, it is noted that this is not the place to consider the behavior of Data Detection Technologies in a separate opposition before the Patent Office.

Data Detection Technologies are ordered to pay 4000 Shekels + VAT in legal fees to Fritz Collischan.

Comment

This decision is a correct one. Since, nowadays pending applications publish 18 months from priority and the whole file wrapper is available for examination prior to allowance, maybe Israel should formally allow third party prior art submissions.

It seems that Data Detection Technologies Inc is trying to delay issuance without formally filing an opposition. I think that this decision, not allowing this is correct.

Previous opposition rulings that relate to failure to submit art generally did not invalidate the patent on this ground alone, but it is within the authority of the patent office to do so.


Israeli Designer Successfully Sues Fashion Chain for Copying Dress

December 26, 2016

necklines

Israel fashion designer Gadi Elemelech sued Renuar, a chain of selling women’s clothing for selling clothing that was confusingly similar to his haute couture dress. The dress in question appeared in Elemelech’s 2013 collection, and in Renuar’s 2014 range. The legal grounds for the action were the Israel Trade Related Torts Act 1999.

A unique design feature that was copied is in the neck shown above. The one on the right is Elimelech’s and that on the left is Renuar’s.

Elimelech sent a Cease and Desist but Renaur denied the allegations.

Section 1a of the Israel Trade Related Torts Act 1999 states:

No business should create the impression that a product they sell or a service they provide was provided by a third party of in connection with a third party.

Citing Judge David Cheshin in 8981/04 Avi Malka Avazi Restaurant vs. Avazi Hatikveh Neighbourhood (1997) from 2006 to the effect that the creation of a new tort simply reclassified the old one and was not substantially different. Professor Miguel Deutch concurred in his book Trade Related Torts and Trade Secrets 2002 came ot a similar conclusion, referring back to an academic paper by Judge Gidon Gilat to the effect that passing off does not only relate to fraudulent use of trademarks.

Renuar argued that there was no likelihood of confusion among Elimilelech’s clientele who know whether they are purchasing from designer or from the high street chain.

Elimelech argued that his dresses were ripped off  copied and sold in the chain and that this made them less desirable and limited his sales and profits.

Judge Gidon Gilat of the Tel Aviv District Court ruled that the sale was actionable under the Trade Related Torts act as ‘passing off’ since the designer dress was well known and associated with the designer, and the fashion chain’s dress was confusingly similar to the designer dress, which they were aware of.   The court awarded damages of 55,000 Shekels and a further 35,000 Shekels legal costs.

Civil Tort 5366-12-14 Elimelech vs. Renuar Ruling by Gidon Ginat, 22 December 2016

 


When Israel is inadvertently considered part of EPO

December 25, 2016

31-monthsIL 244062 is a national phase entry of PCT/AU2015/000701 which claims priority from an Australian patent that was filed on 10 July 2013. There was, therefore, until 1o January 2016 to file a national phase entry of the PCT application into Israel.

A request to extend this period was filed on 11 February 2016, and an Affidavit from the Vladimir Jakovina who owns the holding company Merline Investment Management Property Ltd was filed a few days later on 2 March 2015.

The head of the PCT Division refused the application as the 30 month deadline had passed. The Applicants appealed on the basis of the Affidavit which stated that the Jakovina’s daughter had been responsible for the national phase entries and had mistakenly believed that Israel was a member state of the EPO and that the deadline was, therefore, 31 months.

Ms Bracha rejected this, as although the PCT deadlines can be extended at the discretion of the Commissioner of Patents, the standard that the Israel Law requires is Due Care, and not the lower standard of intention. She did not consider that assuming that Israel was a member of the EPO and not checking this was compatible with the requirement of Due Care.

COMMENT

10 years ago, a Korean client of mine made the same mistake. We submitted an Affidavit that he mistakenly thought that Israel was a member of the EPO, and noted that Israel competed in the Eurovision Song Contest and played in the European football league. That request to extend the national phase entry was refused. Unfortunately for me, then Deputy Commissioner, Noa Shmulevezh, discussed the difference between patents and Eurovision song contests and ignored the other arguments I brought.

Back then, it was worth attempting to effect a late filing, but I am surprised that the agent of record (Colb) attempted this now. Over the past 10 years the Israel Patent Office has consistently refused to allow late national phase entries on the grounds that Applicant believed that Israel had a 31 month regime or was part of the EPO.

I did not appeal the previous patent office ruling to the courts as the client didn’t authorize me to do so. I wonder if the applicant this time will file an appeal. In the meantime, although the Israel Patent Office is addopting a high standard, it is at applying the same standard consistently.

 


Updated Blender Container May Be Registered as a Design

December 11, 2016

On 26 August 2014, HOMELAND HOUSEWARES, LLC submitted a design application to the Israel Patent Office for a blender container as shown below.

blender

Although the Design Ordinance 1924 only requires local novelty, previous Commissioner Dr Meir Noam interpreted this to include prior art on the internet that is accessible in Israel. In an Office Action of 1 July 2015, the Examiner found a picture of a blender on the Applicant’s website that appeared to preempt the registration and therefore refused the design. The Applicant responded on 23 August 2015 to the effect that the blender on the website was an earlier model. Although both had four vertical ribs, in the earlier model blender as shown on the website, these ribs were protrusions on the inside of the container, that served as baffles, preventing the contents from swirling around and aiding blending, whereas in the applied for design the vertical ribs were on the inside and outside. Noting that to remove the container required inverting it and therefore arguing that uses would grip the top (the base when inverted) and not the protruding ribs, these ribs were aesthetic, non-functional elements, and by virtue thereof, the design was registerable.

The Applicant submitted an affidavit that stated:

7. The presence of external ribs changes the overall appearance and impression of the vessel significantly. The cross-section of the ribs is triangular in shape and the vertex of the external ribs is pointing outside. As such, users can see four external ribs that are very sharp. In contrast, users can only see the base of the triangular ribs in the prior art because the internal ribs are pointing inward. …

8. The presence of the external ribs also creates lighting effects that improve the appearance of the vessel. The vessel is made of plastic so that it is partially reflective and partially translucent. …”

“9. The presence of external ribs is mainly for aesthetic reasons. While internal ribs promote communication and disintegration of food contents, the external ribs do not interact with the food content and do not have any effect on the blending and mixing quality of the blender. The external ribs do not significantly help users to open or close the vessel with the blade base. … when users want to open the vessel and remove the blade base, they have to invert the vessel otherwise the food contents will spill. Hence, users will apply force to the blade base to rotate the blade base off of the vessel.”

“10. … The field of mixing vessels is regarded as very crowded. Vessels that have internal ribs are very common. …
11. However, I am not aware of any prior art blender vessel that has ribs on the external surface. Since the field of mixing vessels is crowded, it is my opinion that having external ribs on the surface is a very significant alternation of the appearance of mixing vessels. …”

The Commissioner Asa Kling, reiterated that any original or new design could be registered in Israel, and the term design is includes outlines, shapes or decorations of industrial objects of manufacture that are readily visible to consumers who need not be experts but are not simply passers-by (sections 1 and 2 of the ordinance, and 1187/94 Sela vs Ackerstein LTD [8] 291. 

With reference to the 22424, 22433, 22783 and 23767 Klil ruling from 1997, in crowded fields, one does not analyze an object into its elements, but considers it as a whole, see also 31007 Thermo-gumi vs Agmon Plastics and Rubber Industry, 4 April 2011.

With regards to designs on the Internet accessible from Israel, these are prior art under the ordinance as interpreted, see Design 51593 and 51594 Tequila Cuervo S.A. DE. and the Teva Naot case, and further ruled that previous decisions that required care when considering Internet publications not in patent office databases, required care regarding the date of posting, but were prior art in all regards. He accepted the Applicant’s contention that the external ribs were an aesthetic and non-functional modification, and allowed the application, returning it to the design department for registration.