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.

 

 


Revival of IL 211245 to Neurovision Imaging Inc.

August 17, 2016

he's dead jimIL 211245 to Neurovision Imaging Inc. issued on 1 December 2014 but the Applicant failed to pay the first renewal that was due within three months, by 1 March 2015. After the grace period passed the patent lapsed on 1 September 2015, the patent lapsed and the fact that it had lapsed published in the October 2015 Journal.

On 12 July 2016 a request for reinstatement was submitted. An affidavit from Steven Verdooner, the CEO of the company was appended. According to the Affidavit, back in May 2014, the US patent attorney who handled their portfolio informed them that the patent had issued and requested payment of issue fees and service charges. The issue fees were paid in June 2014.  In January 2016, after the patent had lapsed, the Applicant received a second letter from the same attorney informing them again that the patent had issued(!?). From examination of the section of the email notification appended, Deputy Commissioner Ms Jacqueline Bracha could not determine that the appended notification related to the Israel application, although the corresponding PCT application number was mentioned. Nowhere in the section of the email appended was a specific jurisdiction mentioned. From this there is no indication that the email related to Israel, where the patent had issued a year and a half earlier.

The Affidavit further stated that at some stage, the patent portfolio was transferred to a different US firm. On 2 May 2016, the second US firm informed the Applicant that the patent had lapsed due to failure to pay the Renewal. The request for reinstatement was filed two months later.

In the circumstances described, the Deputy Commissioner was not persuaded that the conditions for reinstatement detailed in Section 60 of the Law were fulfilled. Firstly, more than two months passed from when the Applicant was aware of the patent lapsing and their request to reinstate it. The Applicant made no effort to justify this amount of time passing and to explain what steps had been taken in the meantime. It is not clear that they acted promptly to restate the patent once they were aware that it had lapsed.

The Affidavit did not clarify if the Applicant had received the Patent Certificate and if the Associate (Shilon Zuckerstein) had reported the obligation of paying the first renewal. Even if the Applicant did not receive the Certificate, it is not clear why they did not ask for it once they were informed that the certificate had issued.

The Applicant was represented locally at that time (Shilon Zuckerstein) but not evidence was presented by the attorneys. It is not clear if the Applicants (now represented by Colb) had contacted them prior to producing their affidavit, if they didn’t have information or were not contacted. Thus the Applicant has failed to show that the renewal fee was not paid for reasons that may be considered ‘reasonable’ as required under Section 60 of the Israel Patent Law 1967.

Consequently, the application for reinstatement is rejected.

Request for Reinstatement of IL 211245; ruling by Ms J Bracha, 14 July 2016


Lapsed Patent for Monitoring Flow of Sewage Reinstated

July 25, 2016

renew

Israel Patent Number IL 214216 titled “SEWAGE FLOW METERING METHOD”to Roberto Cymmerman lapsed due to failure to pay the first renewal. The patent issued on 1 July 2015 and so the deadline for renewal was 1 October 2015. The payment was not paid on time. Nor was it paid during the six month grace period under Section 57 of the Israel Patent Law 1967. The fact that the patent had lapsed had not published.

On 30 May 2016 the Applicant requested reinstatement via legal counsel but a Power of Attorney appointing the legal counsel was only submitted after a ruin from 6 June 2016.

An affidavit from Patent Attorney Yoram Savyon who had previously represented the Applicant was submitted. From the Affidavit it transpired that the firm uses a computerized renewal system that was updated on receipt of the notice of allowance; with a calculation of the anticipated date of grant. Based on this, the final deadline for paying the forthcoming renewal was entered. (Further renewals are derived from the filing date and are entered with the filing of the application).

In this instance, the worker who manages the database did not enter the first renewal (which is based on the issue date), but did enter the subsequent renewal date. That the patent issued was reported by the office manager to the relevant worker and it is not clear why he failed to enter the information.

According to the Affidavit, some two months before the final deadline for paying the second renewal, i.e. in May 2016, the Applicants were informed of the deadline and then it transpired that the first renewal was not paid as the deadline was not entered into the system. The Affidavit also noted that for mistakes of this kind, the worker had already been fired.

Deputy Commissioner Ms Bracha noted that the patent itself was filed on 20 July 2011 and so the deadline for the second renewal (years 6 to 10) was 20 July 2017 and not 2016 as claimed in the Affidavit. This mistake raises eyebrows to some extent with regards to the facts detailed in the Affidavit as to how the mistake was discovered. Nevertheless, the mistake for not paying the fee in a timely manner that was detailed in the Affidavit does fit in with the requirements of Section 60 of the Law and so (intent and due care – MF) and so, provided the fee is paid in a timely manner, Deputy Commissioner Ms Jacqueline Bracha saw fit to allow reinstatement, together with an opportunity to the public to oppose.

Ruling by Ms Jacqueline Bracha concerning reinstatement of IL214216, lapsed due to failure to pay renewal fee, 20 June 2016.

COMMENT
In this case, a human error resulted in failure to insert a date into a spreadsheet or dedicated program by a poorly trained and incompetent clerk who was subsequently fired. In the Colb ruling, hand-written renewal records and a more excusable error were considered a lack of due care. I argued that even computerized systems required data to be correctly entered and extracted. In this case, there seems to be a bug in the system for calculating subsequent renewals in that five years and not six is hard wired into the system (or perhaps the filing date was typed in a year early by mistake?!). There is a second error blamed on the office junior who was righteously fired, but was he/she at fault? The main thing justifying this case being considered due care seems to be the use of a computer system, despite it having a bug and being operated by someone incapable of data entry. I consider this standard of due care to be overly reliant on there being a computerized renewal system in place. Objectively, there were apparently two errors here and no indication that there was any intention to pay the first renewal in a timely manner whereas in the Colb case there was one error.


Request to Revive Patent Refused

May 10, 2016

mistakes

The Israel Patent Office has ruled that an inadequate payment occurring in a manual docketing system is unreasonable because IP firms should have computerized systems. Despite the client wanting to renew a patent, the attorney of record taking steps to renew, but making a mistake, and attempting to rectify on discovering the error which the Israel Patent Office could have (and in my opinion should have) brought to attorney’s attention, the patent cannot be reinstated!

Asterias Biotherapeutics Inc. owned Israel Patent Number 159324 “A method of differentiating PPS cells into a population of neural cells using TGF-8 super family antagonists”. The patent was filed on 20 June 2002 and issued on 31 July 2o12, so the Applicant’s representative, Colb, should have paid the first, second and third renewals for years 1-6, 6-10 and 10-14. They inadvertently only paid the first and second renewal and the IPO sent a certificate for the second renewal but failed to note that the third renewal should also have been paid. The patent lapsed and this fact published in the August 2013 journal.

Asterias Biotherapeutics, represented by Colb, attempted to reinstate the patent by arguing that there was a mistake by an office worker of the Agent of Record, and only the first and second renewals were paid. The worker docketed the next renewal for 20 June 2016. This date was calculated manually and was docketed in a diary by hand as is clear from an appendix to the submission to reinstate the patent. As the June deadline approached, the status of the patent was checked and it was discovered to have inadvertently lapsed. The Patent Office confirms receipt of the first two renewals and issued a renewal certificate for years 7-10.

The Deputy Commissioner ruled that there is no doubt that the Applicant wanted to renew the patent and that close to realizing that it had lapsed they took steps to revive the patent. However, under Section 60 of the Israel Patent Law 1967, there is a further consideration, namely whether the circumstances leading to the renewal not being paid can be considered reasonable. The Deputy Commissioner, Ms Bracha was not convinced that the Agent of Record had behaved reasonably.  She was unclear as to whether the renewal dates were calculated and recorded manually or whether they used a computerized system as is generally the case. Therefore the request for reinstatement is denied.

COMMENT

I strongly object to this ruling. Any computer system ultimately will require a person to enter data and to correctly act upon it. The Israel Patent Office has successfully computerized itself over recent years but still makes mistakes. I’ve seen papers from other attorneys relating to other applications misfiled by the Israel Patent Office in applications that I am responsible for. Other patent offices around the world still use manual ledgers.Before setting up my own practice, I worked at Seligsohn & Gabrieli which was then run by the late Arnan Gabrieli. He was old-fashioned and didn’t believe in computerization and saw computers as electronic typewriters. Everything was docketed by hand in ledgers by a receptionist. She was diligent as she knew that any mistakes would cost her her job. The system, though primitive, worked.

The Law does not require computerized docketing. Nor do the regulations.  Computerization enables streamlining and staff reductions which may result in lower operating costs that may be passed onto the clients as lower service charges. It is more efficient. It is not, however, more reliable. Ultimately it relies on humans entering data into a computer and a wrong keystroke can result in an error. Mistakes happen in both manual and automated systems.

I really do not know how many IP firms use manual diaries, how many use spreadsheets and how many have expensive software. I do know that some software has proven unreliable. Some vendors have gone out of business and some firms have not got around to selecting renewal or docketing software. The difference is one of setup costs and operating costs. I am not sure that any one is more reliable. Ultimately a person has to look at the record and typed instructions into the IPO website to pay the renewal on line.

In the USPTO website, one has to enter a patent number and the corresponding application number so that the two numbers have to correspond. This safety feature prevents mistyping causing an error in identifying a particular patent. The USPTO renewal interface not only informs the user that a payment is or is not due, but calculates the amount and whether extension fees are required. In contrast, the IPO system is not, or at least was not automated. Typing the patent number, the fee is not calculated automatically. A person still had to type in that he was paying the first, second (and third) renewal, possibly with extension fees. This stage is prone to mistakes. Even if handled by a patent attorney and not a paramedic paralegal mistakes can and do happen.

Until recently, once one had paid online, one had to print out and forward the ruling to the patent office.  Sometimes the system crashes and one has to start again. One pays by credit card on the Israel Patent Office website but at least until recently, one then had to print out the payment slip, send it physically to the patent office and they had to correctly enter the details and then print out a certificate. I had a case that went abandoned and was revived where I could prove that the payment was made and was received by the Israel Patent Office because I paid renewal fees for two separate cases on the same A4 receipt, and only one was docketed by the Israel Patent Office. Since I had paid and sent them the proof of payment, clearly the data was entered wrongly their end. It happens. It happens at the patent attorney end as well and will happen with both computerized systems or manual ones.

Now, Colb has a large and profitable, established practice. The docketing solution appropriate for him may be beyond the reach of smaller practices. But smaller practices grow. When does a firm need to graduate to a dedicated software practice and when can they rely on a spreadsheet or on a manual solution? If Colb successfully managed for decades with a manual system and built up the practice before computerized systems became available, should the firm be forced to change? The Israel Patent Office is justifiably proud of their ISO certification. Some patent firms have such certification, others do not. ISO requires procedures. It does not require these to be computerized.

As Colb has been found unacceptably negligent in not having a reasonable solution, Asterias Biotherapeutics can sue them for negligence and pharmaceutical patents that are worth renewing 12 years after filing and 13 years from priority may be extremely valuable. I do not believe that any IP firm can afford to insure themselves for claims of tens of millions of Shekels. I predict that Colb appeals this ruling to the courts. I hope that and appeal to the IPAA, the AIPPI, the IPR forum and other representative bodies to file amicus briefs supporting such an appeal. 

In a recent posting, I argued that Einav Zilber wasa more appropriate chairperson of the Israel Patent Attorneys Association (IPAA) than her predecessor, the venerable Dr Meir Noam since he was previously the Commissioner of Patents and is thus conflicted if the Association has to challenge a Patent Office ruling or procedure. I think that this type of case amply demonstrates what I mean.

One more comment. Section 60 allows reinstatement if a mistake is reasonable. In one of her first rulings, Ms Bracha allowed a human error by Reinhold Cohen that resulted in a deadline being missed, to be extended. In that case, relating to patent term extensions, the Law (Section 64) requires the mistake to be unavoidable. It does not allow due care or unintentional mistakes to be rectified. Nevertheless she ruled that human errors are unavoidable. That ruling was in 2012, not long before this mistake occurred. Why didn’t she rule that RCIP should have had a computerized docketing system?