The Israel Patent Office ("ILPO") recently published its 2016 Annual Report, summarizing various aspects of its activities including financial, administrative and substantive. Some of the substantive aspects are outlined in this article.
The year 2016 saw a record number of legal proceedings in the ILPO, including inter partes proceedings – oppositions and cancellation actions; as well as ex parte proceedings. A total number of 292 such legal proceeding were initiated, including 100 proceedings concerning patents, 178 concerning trademarks and 14 design cases. This represented a rise of almost 25% from a total of 236 such cases in 2015 and a corresponding rise also in each category from 64, 160 and 12, respective cases in 2015.
In 2016 there was a decline of 11% in the number of trademark applications that were filed - down to 9,308 from a peak of 10,453 trademark applications filed in 2015 (a decline of approx. 10%); while the number of classes for which the applications were filed declined from a peak of 20,525 in 2015 to 17,255 (a decline of approx. 16%). Approx. 75% of the trademark applications were filed by foreign corporations, of which the leading countries of origin were the US (21.4%), Germany (6.8%), China (5.8%) and Switzerland (5%). Apple, Gilead Sciences, Abercrombie & Fitch, Johnson & Johnson and Bora Creations were the 5 lead filers in 2016.
At the same time, there is a constant increase in the number of registered trademarks, growing approx. two-fold over the last decade from 79,033 in 2007 to 145,099 registered trademarks in 2016; the growth actually being higher in the number of classes in which the trademarks are registered, from 81,484 in 2007 to 192,716 in 2016.
In 2016, a total of 6,425 patent applications were filed in Israel, a decline of 7% from 2015, and approx. 25% over the decade, from 8051 in 2007. The vast majority of the Israeli patent applications were filed by foreign applicants, and only slightly less than 10% were filed by Israeli applicants.
The ILPO recruited and trained many new examiners and has, accordingly, accelerated its rate of examination with average pendency of a patent application until onset of examination being 28.5 months, a sharp decline from 51.2 months in 2007. This decline in pendency paralleled also a decline in the same period from 9.9 months to 5.3 months in the average pending time between submitting a response and a subsequent action.
The great majority (approx. 85%) of patent applications that were filed in Israel in 2016 were national phase of PCT applications, 46% originating from PCT applications filed in the US and 21% from the EPO Receiving Offices.
The 5 leaders in filing patent applications in Israel in 2016 were Biosense Webster (a J&J affiliate), Facebook, Dow Agrosciences, Phillip Morris and Raytheon.
2016 saw also a large increase in the use of PPH over previous years, demonstrating the recognized value of the PPH in accelerating proceedings and reducing prosecution time and cost. The majority of the PPH requests were based on the examination results of the USPTO (54%) and the EPO (22%).
2016 saw a further increase (7% of previous year) in the use of the PCT system by Israeli applicants (1,429 out of 1,698 PCT applications filed by Israeli applicants), with the large majority (64%) choosing the ILPO as the International Search and Examining Authority (ISEA). In 2016, the ILPO was ranked again as number 1 among ISEAs in in the timely handling of PCT applications and is also highly regarded in the quality of international search and examinations conducted by it.