The Israel Patent Office (“ILPO”) recently released the English version of its 2014 Annual Report (the “Report”). The Report highlights trends in domestic patent, design, and trademark filings, while also discussing relevant developments in the ILPO’s internal operations as well as its relationships with examining offices abroad. The Report provides some interesting insights into the state of intellectual property protection in Israel, and helps shed some light on what applicants can expect during the application process going forward.

Last month, the Israel Patent Office (“ILPO”) announced publication of the English version of its 2014 Annual Report (the “Report”). The Report discusses the ILPO’s patent, design, and trademark activities during the year and highlights some noteworthy trends in recent filing activity. This article provides a summary of some of the key data and insights from the Report.

General Observations

In general, the Report reflects renewed growth in intellectual property protection within Israel’s borders, as well as the ILPO’s efforts to streamline many of its search, filing and examination processes. For example, while patent filings and granted patent applications both increased from 2013 (the first increase since 2010), the ILPO shortened overall examination time when considering both first and second examinations. The pendency period for design applications also decreased – from 15 months down to 12. With regard to trademarks, the ILPO reported a significant increase in the number of filings designating Israel as the country of origin without noting either an increase or decrease in examination time.

Enhancement of Israel’s Position in the International IP Framework

In addition to filing data, the Report also highlights important steps the ILPO took in 2014 to further enhance its relationships with other examining offices across the globe. At the beginning of the year, the ILPO signed an agreement with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) that allows U.S. patent applicants to designate the ILPO as an international searching authority. By the end of the year, the ILPO had begun reviewing U.S. applications. In September, the ILPO signed a similar agreement with the National Intellectual Property Center of Georgia, SAKPATENTI.

During 2014, the ILPO also began activating Patent Prosecution Highway (“PPH”) agreements with the patent offices in China, South Korea, and Spain – following PPH agreements previously executed with Denmark, Finland, Japan, and the U.S. These PPH agreements provide for expedited processing of international patent applications while reducing prosecution costs for applications. You can read more about the PPH in this resource from the USPTO.

The ILPO also played a role in the founding of a pilot program designed to further simplify and improve the global patent offices’ existing PPH arrangements.

Highlights from the Report’s Filing and Examination Data

With regard to filings and examinations, the following are some of the most noteworthy data and statistics from the Report:

Patent Filings and Examinations

Comparing 2014 to 2013, total patent filings increased by a modest one and a half percent, while the number of applications granted increased by roughly eight percent. The Report cites the addition of new patent examiners to the ILPO’s ranks as the reason behind the increase in patent grants. As a result, we may continue to see increased numbers when the ILPO releases its data for 2015 and subsequent years. This is good news for Israeli patent applicants, as this also means an overall reduction in the patent prosecution timeline.

Biotechnology applications continue to see the longest prosecution periods (34 months on average, down from 37 months in 2013), while applications for mechanics, electronics,  information technology, and medical devices enjoy the shortest wait times (22 months on average in 2014, down from 23.3).

Design Filings and Examinations

Design applications also increased in 2014 after seeing the sharpest drop-off in a decade the previous year. The number of designs registered during the year nearly doubled from 2013 – jumping from 658 to 1,286. This significantly closed the gap between open applications and registered designs, and the ILPO attributes this improvement to both increased staffing and new efficiencies in its design examination procedures. Seven of the top 10 design applicants in terms of volume in 2014 were domestic companies, and two-thirds of all design applications submitted to the ILPO during the year came from Israeli applicants.

Trademark Filings and Examinations

While overall trademark filings remained fairly steady from the prior year, 2014 was a busy year for the ILPO in terms of trademark application activity.  This was due in large part to the Office’s continued adjustment to the Madrid Protocol. Prior to joining the Madrid protocol in 2010, the ILPO only accepted one class of trademark applications. With trademark applicants now able to file under multiple classes, the ILPO’s trademark department is coping with significantly more volume than in previous years. Fortunately, prosecution time does not appear to be suffering as a result.

More than 25 percent of all trademark applications in 2014 originated in Israel, with just over 21 percent originating in the United States. No other country was responsible for more than seven percent of the ILPO’s trademark applications.