The Israel Patent Office has just published a report covering its activity in 2010.
The report, in Hebrew, is available from here: http://www.justice.gov.il/NR/rdonlyres/C6ACFC67-FFF0-4D16-A8C3-DCFD0154D82E/0/2010.pdf
There are 45 pages of statistical data that contains few surprises, bound in a blue cover with a slightly corny lightbulb image.
Much of the comparative material, showing how the IPO compares with patent offices in other jurisdictions, and the number of patents filed per GDP and per population are found in the OECD report, on WIPO’s website, and in a paper I wrote together with Jeremy Ben David and which was published in WIPR a couple of months ago. Nevertheless, the report is comprehensive and compares favorably to the odd table or graph that the patent office has traditionally published.
There is some data on oppositions that has never been presented before and also comprehensive ranking tables showing where incoming filings originate.
The document carries two introductions, one from newly installed commissioner, Adv. Asa Kling, and one from his predecessor Dr Meir Noam. We weren’t surprised to see that each commissioner has lauded his predecessor / successor. However, since the document relates to the end of Dr Noam’s tenure, and before Adv. Kling took over as commissioner, this seems appropriate, if a little tiresome. Actually to be fair, 2010 was a good year for Dr Noam, whose achievements were many.
Of note, there is apparently on going consultation between the patent office and the Ministry of Justice regarding a Design Law to replace the 1924 Ordinance inherited from the British mandate, which is still in force.
We were surprised to learn that Brazil is a major filer or design registrations in Israel. Indeed 109 of the 423 design registrations originating from abroad came from Brazil, ahead of everywhere else including the US. Apparently, this is due almost exclusively to H Stern, a Brazilian jewelry firm with many outlets in Israel. Apart from jewelry, Israel design registrations were filed mostly for clothing, building materials, ornaments and food containers. In total, 1622 design applications were filed, which is, however, less than in any of the years 2005-2009.
There were a total of 8017 trademark applications filed into Israel in 2010, which is less than any of the years 2005-2009 and nearly 2500 less than 2008.
Protocol Madrid for the multi-national registration of trademarks came into force in Israel in September 2010, and in the last quarter of the year, some 463 filings were made into Israel via the protocol, and 37 international applications originating in Israel were filed.
In total, some 7266 patent applications were filed in Israel in 2010, which is up from 6780 in 2009, but still below the 2006-2008 levels which peaked, in 20o7, at 8064. Most of these applications were Paris/PCT filings or divisional applications, claiming priority from earlier applications. The number of new applications first filed in Israel was 1044, which is the smallest number for a decade. It seems that more and more Israeli applicants are first filing in the US, either as regular applications, or are filing US provisional applications.
There was a lot of patents examined and allowed, but problems in publication delayed them issuing and probably contributed to the low number of oppositions filed, which, at 22, is up from 2009 when only 20 were filed, and from 2001 when 21 were filed, but much lower than the other years of this millennium. We suspect however, that a number of cases examined in 2010 only published in 2011 and there will be some additional oppositions (indeed, I am handling one such case together with Adv Lewin from our office).
Some 41% of patent filings into Israel are computer/electronics related. 31% are chemistry (mostly pharmaceuticals), 17% biotech and 11% mechanical or telecommunications related. (I am not sure why telecommunications is related to mechanical and not to computer/electronics. I suspect it is an anomaly dating back to the mechanical telegraph or to the telephone made of two cups connected by a taut string). The Israel Patent Office receives a disproportionate amount of high-tech and pharmaceutical patent filings compared to those in traditional industries. This seems to reflect the fields where Israeli industries are perceived by competitors as being a threat.
In the end of 2009, Dr Noam initiated a fast track for ‘green’ patent applications. Some 22 attempts to have applications recognized as green were made during the year, and of these, 16 were accepted for the fast track, and 6 were refused. In the pie-chart summarizing this information, the 262 degree slice was coloured green, and the remaining 98 degrees was coloured orange. The significance of this colour was not apparent.Israel is a noticeable user of the PCT system in absolute terms, and is the largest user in terms of population. I suspect that this is because of the small local market, and Israel’s favorable trade relations with the US, Europe and the far East.
It seems that IP activity in Israel, both from local entities and from foreign applicants was down in 2010 in patents, designs and trademarks. This does not come as a surprise, as we’ve felt the drop in work. It is little comfort to know that Israel weathered the recession better than many other economies, and that patent, design and trademark filings are down everywhere, except for China.
However, we note that the patent office has been aggressively attacking backlogs and examination pendencies are down as well.
We hope that the 2011 data will be more positive!