When a patent application goes abandoned due to a misunderstanding between Attorney and Applicant

August 8, 2018

This case relates to a request to revive an abandoned Application, where the Agent of Record was under the impression that he was instructed to abandon, and thus failed to respond to the office action and to the Notice of Imminent Abandonment and the Notice of Abandonment (which gives a 12 month window to reopen the case as of right). He also failed to report the issuance of these notices to the client. The client denies instructing the Agent to abandon the case.

Israel Patent Application Number 191364 to Pro Natura Gesellschadt for Gresunde Ernahdrung MBH is titled “Agent for Reducing the Usable Calorie Content of Food and for Therapeutic Reduction of Weight in particular in the case of Adiposity (Obesity)”.

The Application was filed on 16 September 2015, and when an Office Action was not responded to, a notice of Imminent Abandonment was sent to the Applicant’s Agent on 2 November 2016, and a Notice of Abandonment was sent on 8 February 2017.

(This wasn’t the first time that this application was considered abandoned due to a lack of response being filed. On 20 August 2015, the case was abandoned, but shortly afterwards, on 16 September 2015, it was reopened by the Chief Examiner under Circular 026/2014 ”Returning Closed or Abandoned Applications to Examination).

On 14 March 2018, i.e. over 12 months after the case was closed a second time, the Applicant petitioned for it to be reopened under Section 164 of the Law.

Applicant’s Claims

Daniel Feigelson, the Agent of Record, claimed that Mr. Virovnik, the Applicant’s representative, only learned that the case had been abandoned in January 2018. The request for reinstatement was submitted two months later because he had to submit affidavits in support of the Application to reinstate the case, together with a detailed response to the Office Action.

Mr Feigelson also claims that in a meeting with Mr. Vorovnik in December 2015, the Applicant requested to delay the Examination in Israel for as long as possible, pending a decision on patentability of the corresponding Application before the European Patent Office. In a phone call of August 2016, Mr. Feigelson understood that he should not do anything to further the allowance of the Israel Application.

The request to revive the case was supported by two Affidavits; one from Mr. Vorovnik and the other from Daniel Feigelson, the legal representative. Mr. Vorovnik’s Affidavit stated that contrary to Daniel Feigelston’s understanding, he never ordered him to let the Israeli Application lapse. Contrary to that stated in Mr. Vorovnik’s Affidavit, Patent Attorney Feigelston stated that he’d understood from the August 2016 conversation, that Mr. Vorovnik was not interested in pursuing allowance of the Israel Application. However, unlike his usual practice, Mr. Faigelston did not document the conversation or send a written notice stating that he would abandon the case as instructed, for Mr. Vorovnik to confirm.

In a hearing on 25 April 2018, Mr. Feigelston clarified that following the conversation of August 2016, he did not update Mr. Vorovnik regarding correspondence from the Israel Patent Office, thus Mr. Vorovnik did not know that the case had become abandoned. At that hearing, the Deputy Commissioner Ms Jacqueline Bracha ordered that Mr. Faigelston obtain a further Affidavit from Mr. Vorovnik expanding on what he did remember from the August 2016 conversation.

In accordance with this order, a further Affidavit from Mr. Vorovnik was submitted on 27 May 2017. However, this Affidavit does not clarify that there was a conversation in August 2018, as Mr. Vorovnik neither confirms nor denies that this conversation took place. It merely states that Mr. Vorovnik does not remember instructing that the case be abandoned. It is noted, however, that in the original Affidavit, Mr. Vorovnik was unequivocal that he did not give such an instruction.

Hearing

Section 21a of the Law defines the time period for requesting reinstatement of an abandoned patent as follows:

Where the Commissioner refuses a patent under Section 21a, he can reconsider the refusal if requested to do so within 12 months.

Section 164a of the Law allows the Commissioner to extend this period on reasonable grounds:

The Commissioner has the discretion, if he sees fit to do so, to extend any deadline of the Patent Office or proceedings before the Commissioner….

Considerations for extending a time period should be based on context and the interests in question. This was clarified by Judge Naor in Appeal 2826/04 Commissioner of Patents vs. Recordati Ireland Ltd, 26 September 2004:

The policy for ruling on the various requests before the Patent Office will change with the context, and depend on the deadline under consideration.

In a ruling concerning extending the 12 month period for reconsideration of a decision to close a file concerning IL 221116 Yaakov Dichtenberg et al. from 7 September 2016, the Deputy Commissioner stated that such requests should consider the interest of the Applicant on one hand, and that of the public interest for certainty on the other.

The relevant considerations are whether reasonable grounds for granting the extension were provided, the size of the delay and the reasons for the delay. See Opposition to IL 110548 Shmuel Sadovsky vs. Hugla Kimberly Marketing ltd, 122 August 2010, and the ruling concerning IL 157563 to Icos Corporation from 21 October 2013.

As to the first consideration, the period of the extension is only a little more than one month over the 12 month period set out in Section 21a, which makes it relatively easy to allow such a short extension.

On the other hand, the case went abandoned due to an apparent misunderstanding between client and attorney that could have been avoided by sending a written summary of the conversation or similar documentation. Furthermore, it was not even properly clarified what instructions the Applicant understood he’d given his attorney during that conversation which he doesn’t remember.

Ms Bracha notes that relying solely on a telephone conversation as grounds for abandoning an application does not seem to her to be reasonable or appropriate behavior. This should be clear since this isn’t even the first case that this application was closed due to not responding to an office action, and consequently one could expect the Agent for Applicant to be more careful.

Furthermore, on discovering that the case had become abandoned, the Applicant could have acted immediately, within the 12 month window under Section 21a. However, she accepts that he preferred to submit a full response to the office action, as was finally submitted.

When weighing up the relatively short delay on one side, and the nature of the mistake on the other, which is far from being reasonable, Ms Bracha applies her discretionary authority under Section 164 to allow the case to be reopened, but on condition that there will be no further extensions whatsoever, for any reason.

Ruling re reopening abandoned application IL 191364, 18 June 2018.

COMMENT

Apart from the stated desirability to confirm instructions of this sort in writing, I would add that even when having received instructions to abandon a case, it is good practice for the Agent of Record to report the Notice of Imminent Abandonment and/or the Notice of Abandonment as a courtesy, since even if there was no misunderstanding and the Applicant does request abandonment, applicants have been known to change their minds.

In cases where a client’s desire to reinstate a mark becomes known to the Agent of Record within 12 months, the request should be made before the 12 month window closes, even if an extension is requested to obtain affidavits and to prepare a response to the outstanding Office Action.  It makes sense to obtain reinstatement as a matter of legal right under the law rather than to attempt to reinstate based on the Commissioner’s discretion. This is particularly the case where there is a contradiction between the testimonies of the Applicant and that of the Agent of Record regarding the chain of events leading to the case becoming abandoned. In this instance, the Deputy Commissioner was amenable. Had she not been, the client could sue the Attorney for malpractice, and his defence would be that he was acting on verbal instruction that he did not bother confirming. Not the best situation to be in.

 


Can a Knowingly Abandoned Patent Application be Reinstated?

May 22, 2018

BioMarin

IL 206845 to BioMarin Pharmaceuticals Inc. was refused under Section 21a of the Israel Patent Law 1967. The patent application was the national phase of a PCT application submitted on 6 January 2009. The national phase entry was submitted on 6 July 2010 and claims priority from US applications filed on 7 January 2008 and 22 April 2008.

On 30 January 2013, the Applicant was sent an Office Action to which the Applicant had four months to respond. No response was forthcoming. Following the extensions available under Circular 005/2011 then in force, on 5 March 2014 the Applicant was informed that the file would be closed if no response was submitted within 30 days. This letter went unanswered and the file was closed on 23 June 2014.

3 years

Three years and three months later, on 15 October 2015, the Applicant requested a retroactive extension to respond to the notice of abandonment.

The request was accompanied by an Affidavit that testified to the developments leading to the case becoming abandoned.

  1. In 2005, Merck Serono purchased all rights to the Kuvan medical product, and to the process for manufacturing the active ingredient claimed in the application.
  2. This transfer of rights was not recorded in the patent register and the Application was filed in the name of Biomarin.
  3. In 2012, Merck Serono decided that it was not interested in the patent issuing in Israel and told Biomarin not to respond to the Office Action.
  4. In 2015, Biomarin repurchased their rights to the invention and in 2016-2017 reviewed the usefulness of getting the patent to issue in Israel.
  5. Following the reconsideration, the present request for extension of time to respond was submitted in October 2017.

change-my-mindThe Applicants argued that their repurchasing of their rights and their reconsideration of the portfolio provides sufficient justification for reconsidering the refusal of the patent. Furthermore, unlike in the US and Europe, there is no legal requirement for abandonment so thus, even if the abandonment was following an intentional decision by Applicants or the predecessor thereof, this does not mean that, following a change of circumstances, this cannot be reconsidered and they are entitled to a further opportunity

mistake EinsteinThe Applicants presented their arguments at a hearing on 14 February 2018, during which they claimed that the Applicants can be considered as having made a mistake that they now wish to rectify. They also claimed that returning the application to examination will not cause damage to third parties. Finally, they argued that in Appeal 8127/15 Association of Israel Industrialists vs. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. et  al. (15 June 2016), certainly is no more important than other considerations.

Sections 21 and 21a of the Law set out the normative arrangement for these matters as follows:

21.  If the Applicant did not remove the grounds for the Application not being approved within the timetable set out in the regulations or did not correct the lacunae under Section 20, the Commissioner will refuse to allow the patent.
21a. If the Commissioner refuses the patent under Section 21, he can, at the request of the Applicant, reconsider the refusal provided that the request to do so was submitted within 12 months of the refusal.

reasonable

The period laid out in Section 21a of the law is extendable under Section 164 of the Law at the Commissioner’s discretion. The Commissioner’s discretion is summed up in the phrase “if he sees a reasonable basis for so-doing” which is found in Section 164a. The Commissioner’s considerations will change with circumstances, and as Judge Naor stated in Appeal 826/04 Commissioner of Patents vs. Recordati Ireland Ltd (26 June 2004):

The policy regarding different requests for extending deadlines that are brought before the Commissioner, will change with circumstances and with the nature of the proceedings for which an extension is requested.  

 Similarly, the Commissioner has the authority to make the extension dependent on “conditions that he considers to be correct” as stated in Section 164b of the Law.

In cases such as this, there are two main interests. Firstly, that of the Applicant who wishes to protect his invention and, secondly, that of the public which can benefit from inventions that are not patent-protected and are thus in the public domain. It is noted that this case is the national phase of a PCT application and the application and its status is published under section 16a of the Law.

limited

The Deputy Commissioner Ms Jacqueline Bracha considers that the period given in Section 21a, though long, is limited. This protects the public and brings matters to a close. The period given in the Law is a balance between the competing interests.

To extend the 12 month period after the file closes under Section 164 requires ‘reasonable grounds’, as defined in Opposition to IL 110548 Shmuel Sadovsky vs. Huglat Kimberly Marketing ltd, 12 August 2010. The relevant considerations for ‘reasonable grounds’ are the duration of the extension requested and the existence of a real cause for the delay.

Ms Bracha does not consider that the Applicants’ request can be considered reasonable with respect to the delay incurred or the justification to reopen the file. The request to reopen the file was received 39 months after the case was closed. This is 27 months after the usual deadline which is a long time.

As to the submission that the client changing their mind is grounds for opening an intentionally abandoned application, the Deputy Commissioner does not find this convincing. She finds support in Appeal 83/86 Sokol vs. Yismach, p.d. 40(1) 577 cited in the Sadovsky case, where it is stated that:

The discretionary authority to extent deadlines is intended to overcome mishaps and externalities that are beyond the litigant’s control.

One cannot consider a decision not to continue prosecuting as being an external cause, a mishap or an error. Ms Bracha notes that the circumstances described in the Affidavit show that the error we are dealing with is imported from Contract Law and is at best “a mistake in the equity of the deal” which is not grounds for cancelling a contract.

In a similar manner, it has been determined that not paying a renewal of a patent due to a determination that it is not worthwhile to do so is NOT considered as a reasonable ground for reinstatement, and that is where we are dealing with an actual right that the patentee was awarded and not with a pending application as in this case. See Request for Reinstatement of IL 177522 of “Yad Conena Ltd from 9 June 2014:

The circumstances of the case before me do not fulfill the above requirements. A decision was taken not to pay the Renewal fee. The patentee knew that the there was a need to pay the renewal fee as this was not the first time that he had needed to pay it. One can assume that after the case lapsed and was reinstated in 2011, the patentee made inquiries regarding the next renewal. From the Affidavit it transpires that the patentee made an informed decision NOT to pay the fee. In these circumstances one cannot conclude that the fee was not paid in reasonable circumstances that justify reinstatement.  The economic difficulties that the Applicant noted are not considered reasonable grounds for not paying the renewal, particularly where no evidence of the debit was submitted.

As a footnote, Ms Bracha relates to the claim that the request finds support in Appeal 8127/15 Association of Israel Industrialists vs. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. et  al. (15 June 2016), that in patent law, fidelity and consistency is no more important than other considerations. Ms Bracha considers that certainty is not all-seeing and that sometimes certainty will be sacrificed for other interests. In  re Association of Israel Industrialists, it was stated:

True, there is validity to the suspicion that certainty may be damaged when a court comes to interpret the Law (Aharon Barak Legal Interpretation, Interpreting Legislation Volume 2 583 (1993). Nevertheless, this is one consideration amongst many that can be used where there is nothing in the wording of the Law or elsewhere to directly contradict this. In this instance, it appears that the legislators did not put the question of certainly regarding when a patent lapses as the main consideration.

In other words, the consideration of certainty is an important consideration but where the wording of the Law or its purpose indicate that the legislators preferred some other consideration, the Court will interpret the Law accordingly.

Ms Bracha does not consider that in this instance the Law or the case-law expounding the Law indicate that the legislators preferred the interest of the Applicant over that of public certainty, She considers that to the extent that there is a legal tradition for interpreting Sections 21a and 164 of the Law, it is one that requires the Applicants to provide a real and reasonable cause for incurring a delay, and this is necessary since there is public reliance on the patent lapsing.

revival-2

The Applicants also requested to learn from what is stated in foreign legislation, that what is not stated in our Law is not a requirement. That is, that whereas other laws explicitly state “unintentional” this implies that there is no such requirement in Israel Law. Whilst it is true that Section 21 does not require abandonment to be unintentional, it does provide a normative timeframe for reinstatement, whereas the US and European law do not.  Any deviation from this period is considered in the mirror of Section 164 which is interpreted in light of the nature of the deadline to be extended and the type of proceeding before the Commissioner. This was detailed above, and will not be repeated. It is sufficient to note that one cannot rely on the inclusion or omission of a word in the Israel Law as the basis for its interpretation whilst ignoring the case-law.

It seems that the circumstances are such that the case was abandoned intentionally and can only be rectified if this was not legal. The request is refused.

IL 206845 to Biomarin: refusal to reinstate application, Deputy Commissioner Ms  Jacqueline Bracha, 17 April 2018.     

COMMENT

In extraordinary circumstances, long-dead applications have been reinstated. See for example IL 194015 to Natapov, Perstnev, Perstnev and Vilacer titled “the Insulating Material”. Here the patent had lapsed three years earlier, but had not published. The record is probably Israel Patent Number 139892 “INNER WORKINGS FOR A WATER TREATMENT UNIT” to Yigal Tsabri  which was revived seven years after it lapsed.

I am frankly surprised by the audacity of the Applicants’ representative for trying to  argue that this knowingly abandoned patent application could be revived more than 12 months after going abandoned and am pleased that the Deputy Commissioner came to the decision that it could not be.


Reviving an Inflatable Refrigerator…

July 6, 2017

renewIsrael Patent Number 190365 to Abraham Klanss titled “Inflatable Refrigerator and Freezer” lapsed due to failure to pay the second renewal. The Application was submitted on 23 March 2008, and so the deadline for paying the second renewal for years 6-10 was 23 March 2014.

When both the deadline for paying the renewal and the six month grace period passed, the Application was considered lapsed and a notification to that effect published in the November 2014 Israel Patent Office Journal.

From the Affidavit submitted with a request to reinstate the Application it transpired that Applicant had transferred the issue to Advocate Dror Matityahu, but the address of record in the Israel Patent Office was that of Patent Attorney Yoram Tzavyon.

From correspondence between Advocate Dror Matityahu and Patent Attorney Yoram Tzavyon it appears that the Advocate had paid the fee, despite the previous arrangement being that Tzavyon would handle the renewal.

The Applicant received no updates from his lawyer. In January 2017, after trying in vain to contact the lawyer, the Applicant received a status update from the Israel Patent Office and learned that the patent had lapsed.  The first attempt at reinstatement was submitted on paper in April. The current regulations require such requests to be submitted electronically and this happened the following month.

The circumstances described above are extreme. If Attorney Matityahu did indeed pay the renewal fee, he certainly did not send proof of payment to the patent office so the renewal was not registered in a timely manner. The Applicant for restoration has affirmed that he is unable to make contact with his lawyer so cannot clarify if the renewal was indeed paid as stated.

Section 60 provides for restoration if a request to restore a patent is submitted in a timely manner. The time that had passed since learning of the problem in January and first attempting to reinstate in April was considered by the Deputy Commissioner as being just about timely, it being noted that all the information was available from the database published on Israel Patent Office website, without requiring contacting the secretariat. The Applicant stated that he did not want the patent to become abandoned.

All things considered, despite the doubt, the Applicant can be considered as having fulfilled the requirements of Section 60 and so the Application for reinstatement is published for Opposition purposes provided the missing Renewal is paid.

Decision by Deputy Commissioner Bracha re Reinstatement of Israel Patent IL 19035, 26 January 2017.


Israel Patent Office Denies Request to Reinstate Abandoned Patent Application

June 14, 2017

When Israel patent applications are examined, not always a patent issues. Sometimes a final rejection issues where the Examiner is not persuaded that the Application has merit. More frequently, the Applicant loses interest or runs out of funds and does not respond to an office action. Some six months later, the Israel Patent Office issues a notice prior to closing the file and if no response is received within one month of that issuing, the file is closed.

Even after a patent application is abandoned and the file closed, it is possible to have the file reopened and the final rejection to be reconsidered under Section 21a of the Law.

Here, the time-line is critical. It is relatively straight forward to have a closed patent application reopened within 12 months of the application being considered abandoned. After that window, it is very difficult and one has to show circumstances to justify an exception being made.

Israel Patent Application No. IL 220137 to Skvirsky, Skvirsky and Monassevitch titled “Removable attachment to a Dental Prosthesis” was filed on 4 June 2012. On 2 December 2013, the Israel Patent Office reported that the file would be accessible to the public 18 months from publication unless the Applicants withdrew it. The Applicants did not respond, and so the application published.

On 21 January 2017 the Applicants received a Notice Prior to Examination which had a four-month period for responding. Extension fees for patent applications are payable retroactively but after the four months and a further six months had passed without a response being filed, a Notice of Imminent Abandonment was sent to the Applicants on 4 November 2014. This too was ignored and the Application was considered abandoned and the file closed on 21 December 2014.

On 8 August 2016 the Applicants requested that the file be reopened. No Affidavit was submitted with the request which stated that the Applicants had not received any of the letters from the Israel Patent Office and had contacted the Israel Patent Office on their own initiative on 7 August 2016 and discovered that the file had been closed.

In an interim ruling of 1 January 2017, the Deputy Commissioner Ms Bracha requested a signed Affidavit detailing the circumstances of the file closing to be submitted by 5 February 2017, a week before a hearing was scheduled. The Applicants did not submit an Affidavit but simply sent a further letter making the same claims that they had submitted with their request to have the file reopened.

On 12 February 2017 Mr Yaniv Skvirsky attended the hearing. He explained that the letter of December 2014 from the Israel Patent Office was delivered in August 2016. He also claimed not to have received the Deputy Commissioner’s order for an Affidavit to be submitted. As this was part of the communication that related to the hearing, it is not clear how he knew when to present himself.

After the hearing, the Deputy Commissioner requested that within 14 days, Skvirsky submit an Affidavit together with a copy of the  letter that he did receive in August 2016. This was also not submitted.

Section 21a of the Law provides a period of one year for the Applicant to request reexamination of a refused patent application. Section 164 of the Law allows this period to be extended “if the Commissioner considers it fitting to do so”.

The justification for applying the |Commissioner’s discretion under Section 164 of the Law depends on context, the conflicting interests being considered. In this regard, see 2826/04 Commissioner of Patents vs Recordati Ireland ltd, 26 September 2004.

The policy regarding different extensions that guides the Commissioner will change with the context and the nature of the proceeding for which an Extension is sought.

In this instance, one has to balance the Applicant’s interest with that of the public to know whether something is protected or abandoned in a reasonable time frame. Once the Section 21a period has passed, the public relies on the period of a year for appealing the final rejection and understands that there is no protection for the product in Israel. This relying increases over time, so as the 12 month period recedes in the distance of time, it becomes ever more difficult to revive an abandoned patent. See Opposition to IL 110548 Shmuel Sodovsky vs. Hugla Kimberly Marketing ltd. 12 August 2010 and Application IL 15763 to Icos Corporation, 21 October 2013.

Once the Application has published at 18 months from priority, it is more difficult to revive a patent that is more than 12 months after being considered abandoned. In this instance, the Applicants wish to revive the patent application 7 1/2 months after the 12 month period for revival, and there are significant discrepancies in the Applicants statement regarding the events that led up to the patent application becoming abandoned: the Applicants first claimed not to have received the letters from the patent office. Then they claimed to have received them a year and a half after they were posted, but despite being asked to reproduce the letters, they did not do so.

The Applicants claimed not to have received the invitation to the hearing, yet they knew to turn up for it. At the hearing, the Applicants acknowledged that the address of record was correct, and was the home address of one of the Applicant’s father. It is not reasonable that three separate letters sent over the course of a year went astray. Nor is it reasonable that one such letter arrived 18 months late.

The discrepancies in the chain of events and the Applicants ignoring of directives indicates that they were not really interested in obtaining a patent in Israel, and consequently the request for extension of the 12 month period to appeal final rejection is rejected. 

Decision re reviving IL 220137 given by Ms Jacqueline Bracha, 3 May 2017     


Israel Patent Lapses, But Patent Office Remiss For Not Sending Out Patent Certificate

April 30, 2017

The first renewal of IL 206744 to Bet El Zichron Yaakov Industries LTD was due within three months of it issuing. As it issued on 1 May 2016, the renewal was due on 1August 2016 (see Section 56 of the Israel Patent Law 1967), and six months later, on 2 February 2017, it was published as having lapsed (as per Section 57 of the Law).

On 9 March 2017, the Applicant requested reinstatement, but did not submit an Affidavit. At Deputy Commissioner Bracha’s request, the CEO of the company submitted an Affidavit claiming not to have received the Patent Certificate.

After reviewing the Israel Patent Office records, it transpired that due to a problem in the patent office, the Certifcate was indeed not sent out. The Deputy Commissioner considered this was sufficient reason for the renewal fee not being paid.

Since the request for reinstatement included the missing payment, the Deputy Commissioner ruled that the reinstatement should publish for Opposition purposes.


Reinstatement of IL 122846 to Tyco Fire and Security rejected

January 11, 2017

The fourth renewal of Israel Patent No. 122846 to Tyco Fire & Security was not paid by the deadline of 4 January 2012. A request for reinstatement together with an affidavit was submitted on 9 November 2016, following an earlier request without an appropriate Affidavit that was filed on 1 August 2016 which was rejected in a ruling of 4 August 2016, that without an affidavit such a request could not be considered and that the date of resubmission with an Affidavit would be considered the date of submission. The submission of 1 August included an update that the renewal fee had been paid and a request for reinstatement without any reasons.

On 9 November 2016, an affidavit by Michael Lahat, an employee of Visonic, was submitted. Mr Lahat claimed that Visonic had transferred the rights of the subject patent to the present owners back in July 2013. He further claimed that he was a member of the IP committee of TYCO and consequently, could testify on behalf of the company.

When the renewal fee was due, an employee of Visonic informed the Israel Representative that the company intended to renew the patent themselves, without assistance. In practice the renewal was not accomplished and no explanation was provided. The employee in question left the company hack in November 2013, but prior to her leaving, the rensponsibility for paying renewals was transferred to CPI. In July 2013, this and other Visionic patents were transferred to Tyco. The transfer of ownership was recorded in the Patent register on 31 December 2014, but by this time, the patent in question had already lapsed over a year earlier.

Close to what would have been the fifth renewal date had the patent not lapsed (years 18-20), on 4 January 2016, CPI [MF- Probably CPA – Computer Patent Annuities] tried to perform the renewal, but, since the patent had lapsed, were unsuccessful in this attempt. In March 2016 the renewal company informed the patentee that the mark had lapsed. The attempt to  revive was submitted eight months later.

Section 60 of the Patent Law 1967 states that there are  three conditions for restoring a patent subject to public opposition:

  1. that the payment was not made due to reasonable causes
  2. That the Patentee had not wanted the patent to lapse
  3. That the  request to reinstate was filed as soon as the patent lapsing was known to the applicant or to his representative

The Deputy Commissioner Ms Jacqueline Bracha was not convinced that these conditions were met since it was not clear why the fee was not originally paid in a timely manner since the instructions given to the former employee were not made of record.

The fact that details of the patent were provided to the renewal company does make it clear that the patentee did not want the patent to lapse, so the second requirement is fulfilled, although the after a delay.

No suitable explanation was provided for months passing from when it was discovered that the patent had lapsed until the affidavit was filed.  In this regard it is noted that the patentee was an Israel company that was not difficult to communicate with. That said, even if the patentee was a foreign entity there is no justification for eight months passing in the modern age with modern communication channels.

Since two out of three of the essential conditions were not met, the request for reinstatement is refused.

 

 


IL 221116 – Extending the Period for Reconsideration of a Refused Patent

November 2, 2016

mouth-cleanerIsrael Patent Application No. IL 22116 titled “Mouth Cleaner” was applied for by Yaakov Dichtenberg and Danny Unger who is also a patent attorney.

The Application was rejected. Under Section 21a and 164a of the Israel Patent Law 1967,  within 12 months of a final rejection, the Applicant may request reconsideration by the Commissioner. After that time it is possible to have a closed application reopened, but it is difficult and it is generally necessary to show extreme circumstances resulted in the application becoming abandoned.

weve-movedThis Application was filed on 25 July 2012 and, in accordance with Section 16a of the Law, a Notice of Imminent Publication was sent to the Applicants on 5 January 2014. This notice was sent to the address given on the application form which was the address of the first Applicant, Mr Danny Unger, a patent attorney who represented himself and the his c0-applicant. The Application published on 30 January 2014.

On 2 February 2014 the Applicants received a Notice of Imminent Examination in accordance with Section 18 of the Law and regulation 36 of the patent regulations 1968. Since the Applicants did not respond to this Notice within the period ordained in regulation 36, a reminder was sent on 5 November 2014 to the effect that in absence of a response within 30 days, the Application would be deemed abandoned. Subsequently, on 21 December 2014 a Notice of Rejection issued that also informed the Applicants that they could request reinstatement within 12 months.

On 21 December 2015 a request for reinstatement was received together with a response to the Notice Prior to Examination. The Notice of Reinstatement did not include a signed affidavit as required by Commissioner Circular  026/2014, however the Applicants alleged that they never received the correspondence due to a change of address.

On 15 March 2016 the Deputy Commissioner Ms Jacqueline Bracha requested that the Applicants provide a detailed signed statement of the events leading to the Application becoming abandoned and set a date of 20 April 2016 for a hearing.

On 19 April 2016, one day before the hearing, the Applicants requested a postponement for personal reasons. Despite the lateness of the request and the lack of a doctor’s letter, Ms Bracha agreed to the postponement. Nevertheless, the detailed statement was not submitted.

Applicant and Patent Attorney Unger arrived very late to the rescheduled hearing and claimed that he thought that updating the Ministry of the Interior regarding his change of address was sufficient to automatically update the patent office records. The Applicant was informed that Regulation 16a makes it clear that he should have proactively informed the Israel Patent Office of his change of address and that he still needed to provide an affidavit.

On 25 May 2016 an Affidavit was received in which the Applicant informed the Israel Patent Office that he neglected to inform them of his change of address and consequently never received the correspondence from 2014 to 2016 which was sent to his previous address. He went on to affirm that he never intended to abandon the Application and wanted to continue prosecuting the Application in parallel with the US application.

RULING

Section 21a sets the timetable for requesting reconsideration of a rejected Application as follows:

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.

Section 164a of the Law enables the Commissioner to extend Section 21a due to reasonable causes:

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 policy regarding different requests to extend deadlines will vary depending on context and the type of proceeding that the extension is requested for.

If the Commissioner agrees to an extension, he is entitled to make the decision dependent on appropriate conditions in the circumstances as detailed in Section 164b:

The Commissioner may make the extension dependent on any conditions as seen fit.

As ruled in the decision concerning IL 157563 ICOS Corporation from 21 October 2013:

Citing Opposition IL 110548 Shmuel Sadovski vs. Hogla Kimberly Marketing LTD. regarding Revivals, the relevant considerations are the time passed and the underlying reasons for the delay. In this regard, the time passed not only provides an indication of the reasonableness of the Applicant’s behaviour, but also affects the likelihood of third parties relying on the case being abandoned, since it is evident that the longer an application remains abandoned, the greater the likelihood that third-parties will have relied upon the invention not having been patented.

In this instance, the period beyond the 12 months automatically  granted by Section 21a of the Law is minimal. The Applicant filed a request on the last day but did not file it properly since no Affidavit was included. The Affidavit was only submitted after the hearing.

However, the behaviour of the Applicant does not conform to that expected of a Patent Attorney, who, in this case, represents not just himself, but also a second Applicant. A Patent Attorney is expected to know that he should provide an address to the Israel Patent Office and that this address will be the one that post is sent to. The Patent Office cannot change the address of record without instruction to do so in a formal request to change the address of record. No such request was submitted. Furthermore, the Applicant found it difficult to conform with the revival instructions after being instructed to provide an affidavit explaining the circumstances leading to the application going abandoned. Nevertheless, it does seem that the Applicant followed the case or he would not have known that he should request revival of the Application.

elephant-and-post-boxIn the circumstances, the Deputy Commissioner ruled that the case should be returned to the Examiner as per Section 21a. However, because of the public interest, the Deputy Commissioner makes revival conditional on anyone relying on the patent lapsing from when it lapsed until when it was reinstated being allowed to continue using the invention, even if a patent should eventually issue.

Notice is given to the Applicant that his address has still not been updated.

Decision by Ms Jacqueline Bracha regarding reinstatement of IL 221116 “”Mouth Cleaner” to Yaakov Dichtenberg and Danny Unger”,  7 September 2016

COMMENT

Apart from being rather surprised that a registered Patent Attorney could forget to update the patent office about his change of address and assume that the Ministry of the Interior would do it automatically, I am at a loss as to why he didn’t bother checking up the progress of the application for his own invention on-line.

Since the request for revival was filed within the 12 month time period, at least, since all yearly and monthly deadlines are to the same calendar day, I think the decision is correct.

chewing-gumI couldn’t resist reviewing the Application as claimed, and note that the first few claims attempt to monopolize apples and chewing gum. Go figure.