Novartis Patent Application Struck Down In Israel Opposition

January 11, 2017

glivec

Israel Patent Application No. 174082 to Novartis is titled “METHANESULFONATE SALT OF N – PHENYL – 2 – PYRIMIDINEAMINE DERIVATIVE, PROCESS FOR ITS PREPARATION AND USE THEREOF FOR THE PREPARATION OF A TABLET CONTAINING THE SAME”.

On allowance, Teva Opposed the patent. This decision relates to the utility requirements and to double patenting.

Background

The Israel Application is a divisional application of IL 133906 which is a national phase entry of PCT/EP1998/004427, claims priority from a Swiss application filed back in 2007. The case published as allowed at the end of May 2010, and an Opposition was filed by Teva on 28 August 2010.

Following Statements of Case from the parties, Novartis submitted a request to correct the claims, and narrowed the scope of claim 1, adding a dependent claim 2. This somewhat delayed the proceedings. In May 2012, the Applicant requested a further amendment to narrow the scope of claim 1. (During Opposition, and indeed after grant, claims may be narrowed, so long as doing so is clearly a narrowing in all cases).

Teva did not object to either amendments and submitted an amended statement of case in June 2013. Novartis responded in September 2013 and by November 2014 both sides had submitted their evidence.

Teva submitted an expert opinion by Dr. Mark Zakrzewski and Novartis filed expert opinions from Dr. Simon Bates and from Patent Attorney Dr. Gail Volman. However, in lieu of a hearing, the parties agreed that the Commissioner would rule on the case based on the submissions, and, following his agreement to so doing, the parties filed their summary statements and counter statements.

The subject matter of the patent is Imatinib (N-phenyl-2- pyrimidine-amine) which was developed in Ciba Geigy, later Novartis, and is marketed as Gleevec® in the U.S. or Glivec® in some other countries. It is a competitive tyrosine-kinase inhibitor used in the treatment of some types of cancers, most notably Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph+) chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML).

(An opposition was lodged against the application in India by several Indian generic drug manufacturers including NATCO Pharma Ltd., CIPLA Ltd. Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd., Hetro Drugs Ltd. and also by the Cancer Patients Aid Association. On April 1st, 2013 the Supreme Court of India dismissed Novartis’ patent application, so there are generic versions of the drug on the market. in India and the majority of the patients – 300,000 patients – are treated by the generic versions).

In Glivec, the Imatinib Methanesulfonate is found in the Beta polymorph which differs from the needle-like alpha polymorph and this affects various physical properties.

After the amendments described above, the claim set consisted of five claims, the first being independent.  The main claim is directed to non-needle-shaped crystals having certain diffraction peaks as follows:

174082-claimClaim 2 adds additional characteristic XRay diffraction peaks. Claims 3 and 4 respectively relate to capsules and tablets comprising the beta polymorph and claim 5 relates to a method of fabricating the tables of claim 4.

The Opposer’s Statement of Case

90The Opposer notes that the specification provides support for a material comprising at least 90% of a specific (beta) salt defined by a spectrum of peaks. The main claim, by merely specifying two characterising peaks, effectively claims other polymorphs not necessarily yet discovered and so the claims ‘greedily’ encompass more than the specification teaches.

beta.jpgThe justification for the patent is related to enhanced flow properties of the polymorph. However since the claims cover traces of the polymorph, the claimed material as a whole does not show enhanced flow properties.

Based on the introduction to the specification, the Opposer believes that the scope of the patent should be limited to at least 90% of the specific polymorph as characterized by all its peaks. In response to the Applicants claim that the introductory paragraph was included by mistake, the Opposer notes that such a ‘mistake’ is a factual error and to substantiate that it occurred requires factual support, not expert opinion, and so this claim of mistaken inclusion should be struck from the record or given negligible evidentiary weight. To support this argument, Teva notes that Dr Voleman was not the representative of Novartis during the patent prosecution when the paragraph was allegedly mistakenly included.

Furthermore, Teva posits that the average person of the art reading the application would conclude that the invention is for formulations including  at least 90% by weight of the (beta) salt of Imatinib Methanesulfonate rendering Dr Voleman’s opinion irrelevant.

Double-dip.gifFinally, the Opposer claims that there is overlap between the claims of this divisional and of the parent application, and thus the Applicant is trying to obtain two patents for the same invention. However, this line of reasoning was not related to in the summary and seems to have been abandoned.

The Applicant’s Position

just-another-exampleThe Applicant considers that the specific Example of 90% beta polymorph given in the specification is simply that. It is a non-limiting specific formulation that is provided by way of example.

The Applicant accuses the Opposer of cherry-picking statements from the specification to provide interpretation to the claims, rather than to interpret the claims in light of the specification taken as a complete document. The introductory paragraph was provided for administrative purposes and is not to be used to interpret the patent. Indeed, this paragraph was never intended to be part of the disclosure and was included in the specification by mistake. The parent application cherry-pickingclaimed the beta polymorph in concentrations exceeding 90% and at the time of filing, the Applicant considered that the practice was to conform the background to the claims, and then to file a divisional with the same specification as the parent, but with different claims. Consequently, the limitations of the introductory paragraph referred to the parent and not the divisional, were inherited from the parent, and are not to be considered as limiting the scope of the claims. Thus according to the Applicant, persons of the art would appreciate that the application in question is a divisional application and the paragraph in question related to the parent patent.

morphThe Applicant claims that the present application claims a new polymorph and is a product claim that is per se patentable. To argue the point they referred to TEVA applications for polymorphs that claim the desired properties of the polymorph, such as flow properties, compaction properties, and the like. These are characteristic of the polymorph but it is the polymorphs itself that is being protected as a new composition of matter.

The properties of the beta polymorph are inherent to the crystalline structure and not to the concentration of the polymorph in the formulation. Since the beta polymorph has inherent advantages, its discovery and manufacture has utility and is thus a patentable invention.

Discussion

The guidelines for patentable subject matter are given in the Supreme Court rule 345/87 Hughes Aircraft vs. State of Israel p.d. 44(4) 45, 65:

“true the interpretation of patents is not substantially different from the interpretation of any other document, and the standard laws of interpreting papers apply to it. However, due to the special nature and power of patents, additional care must be taken in interpreting since they effectively provide a monopoly in the marketplace. The basic principle is that the patent should be read as a document in its entirety to understand the inventor’s intention as it is expressed in the document…since the patent is primarily directed to professionals in the technological field that the patent considers to be the field of relevance, it should be interpreted using professional knowledge (state of the art) at the time of filing. However, since the patent is supposed to indicate the inventor’s intention, there is some flexibility in giving interpretation to phrases and terms that appear in the claims and the rest of the specification, such as the description, may be used as a dictionary for these phrases and terms. In other words, as a lexicography of the invention.”

Section 13a of the Law states that:

The specification will conclude with one or more claims that define the invention, however these claims must be fairly based on the specification.

Regulation (20)a(3) of the patent regulations 1968 expounds section 13 and requires that the claims are ‘succinct and clear’.

It will be appreciated that the claims define the scope of protection claimed. The claim interpretation should be based on the specification in its entirety – including the description and the figures (Hughes, page 65). However, one cannot import limitations from the specification into the claims:

“The starting point for the appropriate approach is that patent documentation is a one-sided document that the inventor himself writes and he has freedom to write it as he likes. (Catnic Components Ltd. [22] at 242).  A lack of clarity regarding the explanation of a phrase or term in the claims can be made by reference to the specification so long as this is done with reference to the specification as a whole and not selectively in a way to favour the applicant whilst disregarding other phrases in the specification that lead to a different interpretation (Electric & Musical Industries Ld. And Boonton Research Co. Ld. [21], at 41).”

Section 13(a) deals with the question of whether the claims of the application are fairly based on the specification and whether or not they are sufficiently enabled for persons of the art to practice. The Court of Appeals of the EPO has nicely summed this up as follows:

“Undue breadth is not a reason for refusing a claim under the EPC as long as its subject-matter is novel and inventive, and sufficiently disclosed in and supported by the description.” T 0593/96 INDIGO N.V. (18.11.1996). 

See also  T 0456/91 Syntex (USA) Inc. v. Debiopharm S.A., (3.11.1993).

In this instance, the Opposer alleges that the claims are not supported by the specification to the extent required by Section 13(a) of the Law since the claims are wider than that supported. The Opposer calls the claims ‘Greedy’. The extent that this term can be used with reference to the requirements of Section 13(a) is given in Appeal 1008/58 Alerican Cyanamid vs. Lepitit et al. page 261 from 4 April 1960. See also Opposition by Teva to IL 142809 to Pharmacia AB from 26 February 2015.

In his Opinion from 1 December 2013, Dr. Mark Zakrzewski (Teva’s expert witness) notes that the invention clearly specifies a 90% concentration of the beta phase.

“34. The alleged invention is explicitly described in the Patent Application as a methansulfonate salt of Imatinib Mesylate comprising “at least 90% by weight of crystals of the β-modification…” or “in essentially pure form”.

Based on this, the Opposer considers that claim 1 which lacks this limitation is wider than that supportable under Section 13(a).

Consideration of the Application itself shows that there is no certain preference to limit the concentration of the beta phase. For example, page 3 states:

“The invention relates to an acid addition salt of a compound of formula I comprising non-needle-shaped crystals, especially the β-crystal form of the methanesulfonic acid addition salt of the compound of formula I.

The invention relates especially to a particular, form of the monomethanesulfonic acid addition salt of a compound of formula I,

formula

comprising at least 90% by weight of crystals of the β-modification, said crystals of the β-modification showing on X-ray diffraction a peak at an angle of refraction 2theta of 20°, said peak having a relative line intensity of 65 as compared to the most intense line in the diagram”.

Further on, on page 4 of the specification, the following is stated:

“The term “essentially pure” is understood in the context of the present invention to mean especially that at least 90, preferably at least 95, and most preferably at least 99 per cent by weight of the crystals of an acid addition salt of formula I are present in the crystal form according to the invention, especially the β-crystal form.

…                                                  

The invention expressly relates also to those forms of the methanesulfonic acid addition salt of a compound of formula I in which crystals of the crystal form according to the invention, especially the β-crystal form, are present in essentially pure form…”.

From the above it is clear that the specification does relate to the beta phase in a manner that does not necessitate limiting it to a preferred concentration. Apart from the opening paragraph which will be discussed separately, the specification uses terms such as ‘particularly’ and ‘especially’ with regards to concentrations and does not limit to these desirada.

The reader will appreciate that the patent relates to the non-needle-like beta phase but not to specific concentration ranges. See Section 22 of Dr Bates’ opinion on behalf of the Applicant:

“22. Contrary to Dr. Zakrzewski’s assertions, the specification teaches and enables form β per se, without any purity limitations. An “essentially pure” form β is one of the preferred embodiments of the invention, but by no means reflects the entire scope of the invention. Dr. Zakrzewski apparently selects a couple of paragraphs which highlight a preferred embodiment, disregards the teaching of the specification as a whole will readily understand that the invention is the discovery and development of the novel form β and that the invention is not limited to form β only when it is “essentially pure”.”

As to the practice of claiming new polymorphs, Dr Bates opines:

“Indeed, just like new chemical entities, novel polymorphs are claimed per se without quantitative purity limitations. At the most, quantitative limitations are a preferred embodiment, as in the instant case. For the sake of demonstration, I instructed applicant’s counsel to search polymorph patents issued to Teva by the USPTO. Overall, 78 patents claiming polymorph forms were found. 77 patents out of 78 patents claim the polymorph forms per se, without “quantitative” or “purity” limitations…”

The Applicant explained that the introductory paragraph was the result of the Examiner requiring the specification of the parent to be conformed to the claimed invention, and then was inherited in the divisional application. This claim, related to in Dr Voleman’s opinion, relates to factual matters. Commissioner Kling concurs with the Opposer that Dr Voleman is not the ‘correct’ witness to testify that this was a mistake and does not have first-hand knowledge regarding that which she is about. Such a claim requires support by an affidavit and is a matter for first-hand testimony and not for an expert witness to hypothesize about.

That said, the state of affairs is not sufficient to warrant deviating from the general principle stated in the Hughes Aircraft Decision, that the specification should be considered ain its entirety. From this perspective, the Commissioner is willing to accept the Applicant’s claim that the introduction is not indicative of the scope of the invention and cannot be relied upon to the exclusion of the rest of the specification to explain that scope of the application. A person of the art who reads the document as a whole would not rely on the introductory paragraph alone, but would read the patent application in its entirety.

Utility

The Opposer alleges that the claimed invention does not have utility since it does not demonstrate the advantages of the beta polymorph when present in minor proportions.

It is true that amongst other requirements, in accordance with Section 3 of the Law, a patentable invention has to have utility. The utility is a requirement that the patent application as a whole must satisfy as stated by Judge Hendel in Appeal 5041/13 Anat Gabai et al vs. Aminach Mattresses, 21 January 2014:

Reading the main paragraph that gives the requirements for patentability teaches that “utility” is the second criterion of the four criteria for patentability. This is not by chance. All patent applications are expected to have utility.

The nature of the utility requirement is discussed by Judge Netanyahu in Appeal 665/84 Sanofi vs. Unipharm p.d. 41(4) 729:

At the time of filing the Application, it has to include a promise of utility. If this is the case, generally the requirements of Section 3 are met. Proof of this promise will be required at the Opposition stage, if this is submitted as grounds for Opposition, or in a cancellation proceedings or infringement action. In Oppositions, the burden of proof is on the Applicant since the patent has not yet issued; in cancellation or infringement proceedings the burden is on the challenger / infringer.

See also the Opposition to 179840 Aminach Furniture Industries Ltd vs. Anat and Moshe Gabai, 20 November 2012.

In this instance, it appears that the promise that is the basis of the Application is the advantage of the Beta phase regardless of concentration. (There is no dispute that the beta phase is novel and inventive). The advantages that Novartis’ witness Dr Bates has alleged are the improved flowability and compactability of the beta phase when compared with the alpha phase, and the parties concur that these properties are desirable in pharmaceutical formulations.

To the extent that the claimed properties are substantiated, they are substantiated for formulations with a greater than 90% concentration of the beta phase. The Applicant did not demonstrate or provide evidence of these properties in lower concentrations.

As stressed above, in the Sanofi ruling, the court emphasized that the claimed advantages have to be proven at the opposition stage if the utility is challenged. Some evidence is required to show that the promise is attained, although not necessarily the quantity of experimental evidence that would be required were the opposers to actively provide counter-evidence.

In this instance, the Applicant continues to allege that they deserve a patent for formulations with even minimal beta content. The Opposers have noted that there is no evidence that such low concentration formulations have advantages over the alpha phase and the Applicant has not provided evidence to support their claims or a reasonably convincing counter-argument in response to the Opposer’s reasoning. This is not to say that had the Applicant’s expert witness related to this, his arguments would have been found convincing – See Opposition ruling concerning IL 143977 Unipharm vs. AstraZenica AB paragraph 44.

In this instance, at the joint request of the parties, no witness is being cross-examined. From this it is clear that the Applicant has not substantiated their claim that formulations with low concentrations of the beta phase have sufficient utility  to be patentable.

The overlap between the claims of the Divisional Application and those of the Parent

In addition to the above, the present application is not patentable due to the significant overlap between the claims and those of the parent patent.

Whilst it is true that in their summation, the Opposer abandoned this line of reasoning, the Commissioner does not consider that this fact alone is sufficient for the matter to be dropped since oppositions are a continuation of the examination process and the patentability question is once again opened. The purpose of oppositions is to ensure the purity of the register and is a continuation of the administrative process (See Opposition to 136482 Bromium Compositions vs. Albermarle Corporation USA, 7 November 2010.

Section 2 prohibits granting a patent for an already patented invention. See also the IL 203972 Novartis decision. To address the issue of double patenting it is necessary to consider the scope of the invention. The scope of the invention may be learned from the total breadth of protection that the patentee receives (see 2626/11 Hassin Fire Industries vs. Koniel Antonio (Israel) Ltd. 14 November 2013 paragraphs 35-38.)

Independent Claim 1 of the parent application claims the beta phase of the Imatinib Methanesulfonate salt at concentrations of at least 90% with a strong 2theta XRay defraction peak at 20° as follows:

formula-parent

Thus the parent claims the same beta Imatinib Methanesulfonate salt concentrations of at least 90% whereas claim 1 of child patent does not include a minimum concentration. The specifications are the same apart from minor differences that are insignificant, and so the claim construction considerations used to define the terms are the same in both the parent patent and in the divisional application. Despite different phraseology the scope of the claims overlap.

The differences are in the non-needle like form of the crystal, the characteristic XRay diffraction peaks and the concentration limitation of the parent.  Careful examination indicates that the same polymorph is covered by both cases, although defined differently, with the sole difference being the concentration limitation in the parent is not in the divisional application and this removal of the concentration limitation is the feature that the Applicant points to as being the patentable feature. However no advantage is given for the low concentrations covered by the divisional application. The Applicant claims that the parent patent and divisional application cover different aspects of the invention. However, the concentration is not an aspect warranting separate registration.

The IL 174082 Application is refused. Costs are applicable as per Commissioner Circular M.N. 80.

Comments

It seems to me that the person of the art considering a patent publication to understand the scope of the claims is a patent attorney with pharmacological background, or a team including technical people and patent counsel. I don’t believe that any industrialist (except possibly Dr Zebulun Tomer of Unipharm who has been challenging blockbuster patents for years and has been known to file oppositions by himself) would construe the claims of a pharmaceutical patent without seeking legal advice so Dr Volman can be considered as an expert.

The Commissioner is correct that there is no obvious or demonstrated utility for the lower concentrations.


From Genesis…

January 9, 2017

232991

“Effec-tiv”  Leadership Creation, Organization Development and Training Ltd submitted Israel Trademark Application Number 23991 shown alongside for Education in class 41.

The text of the mark in the Assyrian text that is printed in blue on the stone  says “Leadership from Genesis”. The slogan alongside states “To learn from the past and to lead into the future”.

The From Genesis Spiritual Social Organization (M’Bereshit) opposed the mark under Section 24 of the Trademark Ordinance 1972 and regulations 35-46 of the 1940 regulations. A response was filed on 24 June 2012 wherein the Applicant stated that it would not stand for their right to the trademark registration. The Opposer filed their evidence and the Applicant did not file counter evidence.

 

As the Applicant had both stated that it would not defend the mark and had failed to submit counter-evidence, the mark is considered abandoned and no costs are awarded.

Ruling by Adjudicator of IP, Ms Yaara Shoshani Caspi re Israel TM Application Number 232991 “M’Breshit”

COMMENT

As the Applicant decided not to fight this, it is reasonable to consider them as having abandoned the mark. However, As Julie Andrews sang in the Sound of Music “Start at the very beginning. It’s a very good place to start”.  The M’Breshit organization may be doing laudable work, but that does not mean that they deserve a monopoly for the opening word of the Bible. In modern Hebrew usage From Genesis is somewhat like back to basics, or ABC and, to my mind, the rock and text makes a nice logo that seems to me to be imminently registerable.

 


Alternative Dispute Resolution Copyright in an Ark Curtain

January 9, 2017

parochet cloth.JPG

Haggit Weingarten is a talented graphic designer. She designed a parochet (curtain for ornamenting the Ark of the Synagogue) where she and her family pray in Petach Tikveh. After finalizing the design with the Synagogue, Ms Weingarten approached a company that did computerized embroidery that specializes in similar ritual items and paid them to fabricate a parochet with her design which is a stylized arrangement of a well known phrase found in Isiah 52:8. The curtain is more modern that the dark velvet or satin curtains that include Stars of David, lions, the Menorah or Ten Commandments that are ultra conservative, but it is not overly modern. The resultant curtain is shown alongside having in her Synagogue. The embroidery company were very complimentary of her design.

parochet-laviSome months later, a member of her community spent a weekend in a Kibbutz Hotel and was surprised to see a curtain with the identical design hanging in the Synagogue of the hotel. Ms Weingarten was rather annoyed about this, and after a little bit of research discovered that the embroidery company was offering the curtain in their catalogue of designs and on their website. Now furious, she got her attorney-in-law husband to write a cease and desist letter requiring that the design be removed from the catalogue and from the website and that the company pay 5000 Shekels compensation.

The company argued that graphic designers made nowhere near that amount for designing embroidery and made a counter-offer of a velvet bag for the husband to store his ritual prayer shawl in.

Dr Ben Spungin who is a patent attorney at IP Factor, prays in the same Syngagogue. The Weingartens contacted him and we decided to help. I was near the Kibbutz one day that summer and took a photograph of the curtain, which by that stage was a three piece suite set including  a cover for the Bima – the central table used for reading from the Torah, and a smaller cloth for the lectern.

The problem was that court proceedings could take 2-3 years and the total award would be unlikely to cover the legal costs which was why the embroidery company could take such a cavalier attitude to their infringement.

We prepared a Statement of Case and noted that under copyright law, the graphic artist was entitled to (up to) 100,000 Shekels compensation for copyright infringement, and a further 100,000 Shekels for infringement of her moral rights to be identified as the artist. In case the embroiderers would argue that this was a design for manufacture and not a work of art, we noted that under the A.Sh.I.R. ruling, the artist was entitled to up to 100,000 Shekels compensation under the Law of Unjust Enrichment.

We sent a copy of the Statement of Case to the embroiderers. Their lawyer got the embroidery company to take the curtain off their website and out of their catalogue, and  then contacted us to negotiate a settlement.

Now whilst the law provides grounds to sue for up to 200,000 Shekels, followers of this blog will note that court rulings vary widely from 2000 Shekels to maybe 50,000 Shekels for copyright infringement of this nature. Ms Weingarten did not include her name as the designer on the original curtain for her Synagogue. Nor would she be expected to. Arguably however, this puts a zero value on her moral rights to be recognized as the artist. More significantly, the original Cease & Desist letter from her husband valued the infringement at 5000 Shekels. Still, the curtain had now gone forth and multiplied into a family of three embroidered cloths. With both lawyers phoning their clients and a little haggling, a settlement was agreed that was more than the Weingartens had originally asked for and even after paying us a small commission, was still more than they would have received.  Justice was served in that the embroiderers ended up paying more than they would have otherwise, not including their own legal expenses. The issue was settled in less than three months.

It should be appreciated that mediation and arbitration are faster alternatives to court proceedings. As this was not a court ruling in the public domain I am not naming the infringing company, but in court rulings, the parties are identified. To avoid adverse publicity it is often in the parties’ interest to avoid going to court.


Discovery In Israel Trademark Oppositions

January 9, 2017

L’Oreal filed Israel trademark application no. 261691 for CARMILANE in class 3 covering cosmetics for hair care, namely shampoos, gels, foams, balms, creams, powders, oils, waxes, serums, lotions, masks; hair straightening preparations; aerosol products for hair care and styling, hair spray, hair dyes and bleaching products, products for protecting dyed hair, hair waving and setting products and essential oils. The application is a national entry of 1187174 under the Madrid Protocol.

The mark was allowed on 30 April 2015, and it then published for opposition purposes.

Sano Factories opposed the mark issuing, and among other evidence, submitted a survey and opinion by marketing researcher Reuben Harari that, from the question asked as a multiple choice option, led L’Oreal’s counsel (Dr Shlomo Cohen & Partners Law Offices) to assume that there had been an earlier survey that produced less than favorable results and that the survey submitted was an attempt to frame the question more favorably. Sano based this assumption with reference to a survey of their own that led to very different conclusions.

L’Oreal’s counsel requested that Sano  and the survey provider “New Wave Surveys” provide full details of the earlier survey. Their initial position is that that the duty of disclosure in legal proceedings is wide and the parties are obliged to make all relevant documents of record. To substantiate this position, they cited widely from the case-law.

On 15 November 2016, Sano’s counsel, Seligsohn Gabrieli & Co, responded that the survey provider is not party to the proceeding and so could not be ordered to provide anything. By its nature, any prior research to the survey that was conducted on behalf of the client that is not submitted is covered by attorney-client privilege and should not be disclosed. They further noted that L’Oreal claimed to have ordered a different survey themselves and so there was no justification for providing any wider survey. Sano’s counsel Seligsohn Gabrieli & Co finally noted that the patent office could have ruled a full disclosure of all relevant documents at any time and never did so, and there was no reason to justify them doing so at this late stage.

Cohen reiterated that the market researcher is obliged to reveal all working papers and raw materials that led up to the survey. Partial revelations by the Opposer’s counsel were damaging to the Applicants procedural and substantial rights.  In this instance where only part of the survey related evidence is made of record, there is a duty of candid disclosure of the rest of it, and no confidentiality. He denied that L’Oreal had conducted a separate survey and considered this irrelevant as to whether Sano was obliged to reveal their survey results in full.

Ruling

Both parties accept that the Israel Patent Office can request disclosure of all documents for inspection in trademark opposition proceedings to enable the parties to relate to the issues with all cards played face up, however, this was contingent on legitimate concerns of the parties such as efficiency of the proceeding.

It should be remembered that the result of proceedings at the patent office, such as whether a mark be registered or not, has public interest in that a registered mark makes private property out of something hitherto in the public domain. This makes it desirable for all evidence to be in the open.

The considerations regarding the duty of disclosure of documents in trademark cases was ruled by the then commissioner, in Opposition to Patent 60312 Genentech vs. Bio Technology General Corp 24 June 1999 as follows:

The possible damage to the efficiency of the proceeding due to the time at which a request to make evidence available, the amount of evidence, its subject matter, the importance of the claim that the evidence is supposed to clarify, the evidential weight, the possibility that the opposing party can obtain the evidence himself and the aggravation it causes the opposing party.

In this instance, the evidence is market research which may or may not have been undertaken by the Opposer. The request is based on the Applicant’s assumptions that since the Opposer submitted one type of survey, there must have been another type that provided undesirable results. The adjudicator of IP rejects these assumptions as an appropriate basis for demanding disclosure of documents.

It is stressed that the parties are allowed to submit only positive evidence, so long as they submit each piece of evidence in its entirety and do not submit only parts of documents.  The Applicant is entitled to full disclosure regarding a market survey in terms of the questions asked, the breakdown of the population surveyed, the way the results were analyzed and so on. However, Ms Shoshani Caspi did not consider earlier preliminary surveys that may or may not have been conducted were ‘raw material’ that is indivisible from the survey submitted.

Ms Shoshani Caspi noted that the opposition had reached the end of the stage of submission of evidence and before the hearing, . She therefore considered that allowing the request would inevitably prolong the proceedings as the Opposer would be obliged to submit additional evidence. The Applicant would then wish to submit additional evidence and the Opposer would have the right to respond. This would inevitably drags things out and delay a ruling on the dispute. It may be assumed that the additional material is not extensive. However, it is not clear that this material (if it exists) has evidential weight regarding the market survey. The Applicant does not know if such a preliminary survey exists and if so, how it was conducted or what the results were so the Applicant cannot state with certainty that such a survey has evidential weight. Such a request creates unjustifiable work for the Opposer, as it damages their procedural and substantial rights.

The correct way to attack survey evidence brought by the opposing party is by conducting a counter survey. If one party considers that a survey was improperly conducted they should do a proper survey themselves to support their allegations. The present request seems to be a ‘fishing expedition’ for evidence.

 

The patent office considered that at the stage reached, it would create unnecessary and undesirable delays to allow such a request. In the scheduled hearing, the evidentiary weight of the surveys submitted will be considered and each side may attack the results of the surveys brought by the opposing party. The request is refused. No costs are awarded.


Israel Trademark No. 268867 to M Yildiz Saadettin Cancelled Following Challenge by the Polo/Lauren Company

January 8, 2017

The Polo/Lauren Company filed a request for an opposition ruling against Israel Trademark No. 268867 in classes 14, 18 and 25. The mark was filed by M Yildiz Saadettin as part of international application number 11451800 which listed Israel as one of the countries covered.

In accordance with Rule 56vi, on 7 July 2016 the Israel Patent Office wrote to the International Office of WIPO to the effect that the mark was accepted, and indicated that there was a three month period for opposition. A similar letter was sent to the Applicant’s representative.

On 5 October 2016 the Polo/Lauren Company submitted  a detailed opposition to the registration in all three classes, under Section 24 of the Trademark Ordinance and Regulations 35 to 466 of the 1940 regulations. Following this, the Israel Patent and Trademark Office informed the applicant that such a proceedings had been initiated, giving them the deadline for responding.   by filing a counter-statement of case. The Applicant had two months, until 4 December 2016 to respond.

Until the time of writing this decision on 25 December 2016, no response was received.


Requesting Enlargement of A Deposit of Costs

January 8, 2017

The Krasnyi Octybar and Rot Front Joint Stock Companies own four Israel trademarks: 184179, 182758, 182759 and 182763. Each covering a long list of goods in class 30, including such things as for waffles; confectionery for decorating Christmas trees; cakes; pastries; peanut confectionery; almond confectionery; pasty; cocoa; cocoa products; caramels [candy]; sweetmeats [candy]; liquorice [confectionery]; peppermint sweets; coffee; crackers; meat pies; farinaceous foods; candy for food; fruit jellies; marzipan; custard; honey; ice cream; sherbets [ices]; muesli; mint for confectionery; cocoa beverages with milk and coffee beverages with milk; coffee-based beverages, tea-based beverage, chocolate beverages with milk, chocolate-based beverages, cocoa-based beverages; lozenges; petits fours [cakes]; biscuits; pies; fondants; pralines; gingerbread; chewing gum, not for medical purposes; sugar; cake paste; confectionery; rusks; sandwiches; almond paste; tarts; cakes (Edible decorations for-); halvah; bread; tea.

Five companies including the Roshen Confectionery Corporation,  Dealer B&D International Ltd, Kjarkov Biscuit Factory, Dolina Group Ltd and Latfood Ltd have filed cancellation requests against these marks.

The marks owners have requested that the sum that the challengers are required to post as a guarantee against legal costs in the event that the mark owners prevail be increased by a further 130,000 Shekels, or by whatever sum the commissioner sees fit. The request was submitted together with 90 pages of appendices and a copy of an Affidavit from the legal counsel of the mother company, however the original Affidavit was not submitted. The challengers opposed the request to increase the guarantee. A hearing has been set for the 17th and 18th of January for cross-examining the various witnesses.

The background to the request for guarantees is two requests for cancellation of the marks. Roshen Confectionery Corporation and  Dealer B&D International Ltd have requested the cancellation of 184179, 182758 and 182759 trademarks, and the Kjarkov Biscuit Factory, Dolina Group Ltd and Latfood Ltd have requested cancellation of the 182763 mark.

Following requests for guarantees that were filed in March 2015, the Adjudicator of IP Ms Yaara Shshani Caspi ruled on 21 June 2015 as follows:

In light of the above, and considering all the circumstances of this case and the general considerations used to determine the magnitude of the appropriate deposit, the first two challengers are to jointly deposit 75,000 Shekels and the second group of three challengers are also to jointly deposit 75,000 Shekels, and this should be done within 21 days.

The present request includes suspension of the proceedings until the deposit is increased.

The Parties’ Allegations

The mark holder claims that increasing the deposit is required because following the original decision there have been changes in circumstances that warrant increasing the deposit. These new circumstances include the expectation of long and complex proceedings and a number of cross-examinations. Furthermore, the case is complex and it transpires that the costs are expected to be higher than originally anticipated. The additional costs are incurred by the two groups of challengers retaining separate counsel and making unnecessary requests. A further claim is that it was not previous clear but now is transparently so, that there will be a massive amount of evidence and documents and a hearing that will be conducted largely in Russian, requiring simultaneous translation. The mark owners nevertheless reiterate their opinion that the likelihood of challengers prevailing and the marks being cancelled are very slim. The amount of the deposit, standing at 150,000 Shekels, is too low and not proportional to the costs that will be requested if the cancellation attempts fail and so this is a classic example of where increasing the deposit is warranted.

Both group of challengers consider the request to increase the deposit should be refused since the ‘new circumstances’ were already fairly obvious when the original request for costs was made. The second group of challengers considers this to be a vacuous request filed in bad faith simply to stretch out the proceedings.

Ruling

Ms Yaara shoshani Caspi did not consider that the circumstances had changed since the original request for a deposit was ruled on. For example, where there are five parties challenging two groups of marks it is not unpredictable that there will be lots of witnesses to cross-examine. Since the challengers are Russian companies, it was always expected that their witnesses would testify in Russian and simultaneous translation would be needed, as is the fact that there are two groups of challengers. The massive amount of evidence was also expected and Ms Shoshani Caspi considered that these grounds were all considered by her in her original ruling regarding the size of an appropriate deposit.

With regard to the likelihood of the challenges prevailing and the marks being cancelled, there is no way to consider the likelihood or otherwise of the challenges be successful at this stage since the witnesses have not been heard and have not yet been cross-examined. At least this is the theoretical state of affairs. Since the challenges are on the basis of inequitable behaviour in the original filings, there is a high level of proof that the challengers will be required to submit to establish their case since they will have to positively show that many years ago the mark holders intentionally appropriated marks that were not theirs.

Nevertheless, the fact that the challengers have a difficult task ahead is not justification to increase the deposit that they have already placed. There are no unexpected circumstances not considered in the original ruling considering the size of the deposit.

The request to increase the deposit is refused. However, Ms Shoshani Caspi does not see the request as indicative of inequitable behaviour designed to make the trademark cancellation proceedings unnecessarily complicated. that said, the mark owners should nevertheless pay costs to the challengers for requiring them to respond to this request. The mark owners will therefore may 1500 Shekels to the first group of challengers and a further 750 Shekels to the second group and will do so by 15 January 2016 or interest will incur.

In cancellation proceedings concerning 184179, 182758, 182759 and 182763 trademarks, Ruling on increasing size of deposit by Ms Yaara Shoshani Caspi, 28 December 2016.


Requesting a patent allowance to be cancelled

January 8, 2017

reconsideration

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ruling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comment

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

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

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