Jewish Barcelona and Gerona

May 28, 2017

rashbaOn Friday, I visited the historic Jewish quarter in the medieval town where the roads are somewhat narrower.

The Synagogue of the Rashba has been turned into a little museum, and the sites of other synagogues have been identified. A store selling indoor furnishings and ornaments has a medieval ritual pool (mikveh) in its floor.

hebrew letteringWe saw the site where Nachmanides debated Pablo Christiani on theology before King Jaume, and saw a municipal building that included recycled tomb-stones from the Mount-Juic cemetery as part of the stone-cladding, the Hebrew lettering still visible.

Together with other observant Jewish IP practitioners from Australia, Israel, Canada, UK and the United States, we spent Shabbat (Saturday) with a community of Moroccan immigrants served by Chabad rabbis. It seems that now as in pre 1492, the synagogues are inconspicuous from the outside and communal life relies on the goodwill of the government. Outside the synagogue  whose only external sign was the mezuzah on the doorpost, police security was clearly evident. That said, whereas in Paris and to a lesser extent, in Brussels, I encountered anti-Semitism, I felt very comfortable wandering about Barcelona in a kipa (skullcap).

miqveOn Wednesday, thoroughly fed up of patent and trademark attorneys, I joined my wife Miri on a day trip to the historic town of Girona.

One can see the medieval mikve, the house of Nachmanides, and the medieval synagogue which is now a museum.

 


INTA 2017 – the Conference

May 28, 2017

middle east and north africaI had a couple of prearranged meetings on Sunday, and also a meeting of the Middle East and Africa Committee for the INTA Bulletin, which I dutifully attended. In terms of generating or giving out work, the committee is a waste of time. Israeli companies mostly file patents and trademarks in North America, Europe, India, the Far East and Australasia and incoming work is largely from the same places.

I spent most of the day schmoozing with other practitioners. Despite it being my sixth or seventh INTA, I had made the unforgivable error of forgetting my business cards in the apartment we were renting.

hamThe opening reception had a musician playing the Spanish guitar, with some girls dancing the flamenco. In addition to beer and wine, much of it sponsored, there were loads of carving stations where punters could get thinly sliced ham off carved from the leg. The Kosher table at the opening reception had some delicious lamb, Moroccan style spicy fish, chicken, rice and potatoes, fruit salad and apple strudel. In addition to being a magnet for the observant Jewish crowd, it was also a good place to meet Pakistani anhalald Middle Eastern colleagues that are happy to rely on Kosher food as being in accordance with strict Halal requirements.  Unfortunately, most strict Muslims seem to come from countries that do not exchange work with Israel, but the friendly banter between the lawyers and patent attorneys is a worthwhile form of low-level diplomacy that can only further mutual respect and understanding. One Iranian gentleman explained that it is only the ayatollahs who have animosity towards Israel, the Iranian people wish us no harm. I had a fascinating discussion with a Dubai attorney who showed me how often Moses and Abraham are mentioned in the Koran, in contrast with Mohammed.

The Exhibition Hall was a bit of a disappointment in that there was less swag available than in previous years, and fewer entertaining stalls. Still, as the kids get older, they are more demanding regarding presents, and I am not sure that INTA publicity junk is sufficient reward for them managing without me for a week. The book and magazine stalls were also smaller than usual, and now that the entertaining and erudite Professor Jeremy Phillips has retired, the booth representing Oxford University Press is simply not the same. Dennemeyer had very good coffee, particularly when compared with the rubbish served in the hospitality area. The Future of Brands.Com had a great booth with a wheel of fortune, an antique arcade ‘Zoltar Speaks’ fortune teller machine a la BIG, and a row of ducks to knock over with bean-bags. Their stall was manned by a magician who was quite competent and entertaining if you like card tricks, etc. Their central Zoltarmessage was that forcing cigarette packages to show images of the likely diseases caused could spread to chocolate and soft drinks and endangered the branding industry. Regardless of whether one agrees with their message, the stall stood out and was well conceived. I was disappointed to see that the .sucks people had a stall again. Their pitch seems to be that brands should buy the brandname.sucks sucksdomain before someone else does, and this, to my mind, is trademark abuse and something that INTA could and should decide not to provide a platform for. With the tens of millions of dollars that INTA takes from registrants and sponsors, I think they could have said no to this. In addition to attractive and friendly daughters, Yaffi from Lebanon has the best baklava that I’ve ever eaten. After another round of our ritualized argument regarding which country deserved the appellation of origin for hummus, we promised to exchange work inj’Allah. One day it may happen…

For some reason meeting points 1 and 2 were a fair distance from the hospitality area, and meeting point 3 was cancelled. A lot of people complained of being stood up. The receptions were also scattered around town and were generally a distance from the conference center. It seems that pre-registration was mostly required to try to gauge numbers, as very few venues can cope with 10,000 participants. However, with the conference being tiring and everything being a schlepp, people who had pre-registered didn’t bother showing and reception organizers seemed happy to accept gate-crashers.

I had registered for and went to Achariya’s reception, but didn’t stay. I was hoping for an Indian experience, but the food, dress, ambiance and music was anything but. Next door, was a Japanese reception by Taiyo which I gate-crashed, where sushi and sake was served. I had a little raw salmon sashimi which was very good (and the only thing Kosher) and a box of sake which seemed fairly mild, but left me a little woozy.

By Tuesday night, I’d had enough, and went on a day tour with my wife.

beach partyThe Gala Event was something of a disappointment after Universal Studios and Disney Land in previous INTAs. It was a beach party that consisted of a couple of adjacent restaurants somewhere on Barceloneta Beach, and though small, was more than sufficient as those that managed to find the location arrived in dribs and drabs having walked miles along the promenade looking for the venue. Some gave up and went back to their hotels and many simply didn’t bother coming. Quite by chance, the restaurant/club that I queued up to enter, had the table of Kosher food at the back. Once again, the one Kosher caterer did us proud, with beef, chicken, salmon, couscous, rice, potatoes, salads and dessert.

The alcohol flowed freely, but though less formally attired than for business meetings, people were over-dressed for a beach-party. Many of us were too tired and perhaps also too old to get into the party mood.  It seems that many of the latecomers who had walked the beach for ages looking for the party, had to queue for a long time to get in, and some were turned away.

pickpocket-381435On leaving the party area, I was stopped by the police. It seems that I wasn’t their target; the person next to me was accused of being a pick-pocket. I explained that I had one wallet and one mobile phone. Although I had a pocket full of other people’s business cards, these were more or less willingly surrendered and certainly not surreptitiously lifted.

Actually, I was robbed. It happened at the airport on arrival where I stupidly changed dollars to Euros at an official cambio that didn’t take a commission, merely gave an exchange rate that was about 15% less than it should have been.

I enjoyed the break from regular work, and somehow feel recharged. The average cost per business card was less than in previous years. In addition to shaking paws with a couple of hundred colleagues that I’ve previously met, I seem to have collected 429 new business cards and email addresses at an average outlay of only $8 a card. Perhaps a better way to look at it is that one only needs to generate $3000-4000 of work per participant to make the exercise worthwhile. Who knows? Maybe the conference will bring in enough work to justify participation.


Picasso, Dali and Gaudi

May 28, 2017

cannabis

Barcelona has a hemp museum dedicated to marihuana and cannabis. One suspects that soft drugs are legal in Catalonia since they are not legal in other parts of Spain. That was certainly the reason why bull fighting is illegal in Barcelona. However, there may be a history of drug abuse in Barcelona as Gaudi, Picasso and Dali were probably all users as their depictions of reality are somewhat skewed.

Whilst accepting that Picasso was versatile and talented, I gave the museum a miss. It may be simply a lack of education, but I find his pictures childish and simplistic. Its like looking at a neighbor’s grandchild’s pictures.

familiaBuildings are usually solid, rectangular affairs. Gaudi’s creations are anything but.

Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia cathedral seems to have been inspired by stalagmites and stalagtites, and is a kind of melted Gothic creation that is still being constructed. To me it emphasizes the temporal nature of all things, even stone.

Gaudi Casa Batllo

Casa Batlló is apparently inspired by the sea. The ceramic covered central walls surrounding the glass banister panels of the central staircase seem to glisten. The attics are supported by whalebone-like constructions, and everything seems to ebb and flow. Air-flow is ajusted through gills, and the outside of the building is scaly.

Well worth a visit, but not somewhere I’d like to live.

Dali Menora ora HoraI did a day trip to the Dali Theatre-Museum in Figueres. It was Jerusalem Day, celebrating 50 years since the reunification of the Holy City, and, in addition to his better known works, the visit to the Dali museum provided a timely opportunity to view the full Aliyah series of lithographs. Dali had obviously researched the project which included Biblical scenes, Ben Gurion’s declaration of independence, the Holocaust and illegal Jewish immigration. There was meticulous attention to detail, but I think the series had a lack of passion when compared to his depiction of his muse Gala, and I suspect that though he took the commission seriously, he wasn’t personally inspired by the Return to Zion.

Barcelona – Not what I expected

May 28, 2017

intaBarcelona is a modern flat city of 5 and 6 story buildings laid out on a grid of wide streets. In May the weather was pleasantly warm with low humidity. Whilst the dark lounge-suits made it easy to find other INTA participants and to blend into the crowd, I suspect light cotton slacks and tee shirts would have been more comfortable.

barcelonaBarcelona is a great place for a holiday, but maybe less successful for a conference. A lot of the Israeli convention crowd on the plane out were accompanied by their spouses, as I was. This seemed to be true of practitioners from other countries as well.  My wife enjoyed a week’s holiday.

I found the city to be an eye-opener. I had thought of Barcelona as being part of Spain and expected to hear Spanish. I thought that football was a game. I was aware of the Spanish Inquisition as being an institution against Jews and Jewish Conversos. I discovered that the Catalonians have a different language and identity. That football is a nationalist religion and that the inquisition was also against Moslems. I had always thought of St George, the dragon slayer as being English, but discovered that the Catalans see him as one of their own. It seems that as in Middle Ages, there is again a Moorish immigration from Africa. There were a lot of peddlers on la Rambla, however these quickly disappeared as the police arrived.

NOBODY EXPECTSThere is an urban legend that ham became the Spanish national dish to help the Inquisition sniff out conversos that continued to practice Judaism or Islam in secret.  I do not know whether this is historically true but bacon and ham was in evidence everywhere; in dedicated butcher shops, in the markets, in many restaurants and at INTA receptions.

We saw lots of children in strollers and playing in the small playgrounds that dotted the residential areas. The streets were clean, and though we saw some graffiti, it was less in evidence than in other European cities. Very many Barcelonan residents seemed to have dogs of recognizable breeds. On the other hand, we didn’t see cats or rats in the street. In addition to a lot of pigeons, migrant bird species that also plague Israel, including ring-necked and monk parakeets were very much in evidence.

On registration, we receiMETROved a four-day pass for the Metro and buses. This was useful. Particularly as I discovered that business cards didn’t work on the turnstiles for the Metro, and the buses didn’t accept them either.

The metro is good, but access required negotiating lots of flights of stairs. This was particularly difficult with suitcases, but even without, was fairly tiring. There were buses, but because a lot of Barcelona is oe way streets, I seemed to keep finding the bus stop for buses in the wrong direction, with the stop for buses going the other way, nowhere in sight.


End of an Era

May 26, 2017

Esteemed Out-Going Commissioner Asa Kling writes as follows:

Dear friends, users of the Israel Patent Office services,

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMMENT

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

 


Retiring Israel Patent Attorney Looking to Sell Business

May 26, 2017

REtirementA well-respected Israel Patent Attorney has had enough and is looking to sell his business as an on-going concern. There are over a hundred  patent, design and trademark files from a nice mix of 20 foreign and domestic clients. Contact me if interested, and I will forward your details to the attorney.

 


New Directives For Examining Israel Patent Applications

May 17, 2017
israel patent officeOn March 23, 2017, the Israeli Patent Office issued two new Directives; No. 034/2016 and 035/2016.  These apply to all patent applications having a first substantive Office Action that issued after March 27, 2017.

Unity of Invention
unityPatent applications may describe more than one invention but the claims should relate to one invention only. In applications where more than one invention is claimed, instead of issuing a lack of unity objection and letting applicant address the issue and elect a claim set to be examined, the Examiner will generally examine the first claimed invention appearing in the claims, but has the discretion to allow the Applicant to elect the invention to be examined. One cannot respond to an office action by replacing the claims to an examined invention by amending the claims to claim what the Examiner considers to be a separate invention. The applicant must file a divisional application to have non-elected inventions examined.
Use Claims
swiss claimsSwiss-type claims  of the form “Use of X in the preparation of a medication for the treatment of Z” are no longer acceptable unless the process for the preparation of the medicament is inventive per se). EPC 2000-style claims (X for use in/as Y) are, however, acceptable.
Extensions for late filing of responses
lateThe number of extensions available for each substantive Office Action during patent examination has been reduced to four months, and the total extensions for the entire examination should not exceed 12 months. This is 3 months less than the 15 months of Extensions that was formerly available. However, this period is only once substantive examination commences and does not include extensions of up to 6 months for responding to the Notice Prior to Examination.