Why Register Patents in the “Start-up Nation”

By Jeremy M Ben-David, at JMB Davis Ben-David

Generally speaking, patents are registered in Israel not because of the market size, but in spite of it.

In their book Start-up Nation originally published in 2009, authors Dan Senor and Saul Singer explain how Israel, a country with few natural resources and a population of little more than 7 million people, has become a major force in global business, especially technology. A variety of sources have written about the Israeli high tech miracle. Two examples:

  • In a review of Start-up Nation in November 2009 the Wall Street Journal stated that 63 Israeli companies were listed on NASDAQ. This is more than any country outside the United States. In November 2012 they reported that per capita funding in Israel is 2.5 times that of the US and about 30 times that of Europe.
  • In an article on cleantech in March this year Forbes reported that [Israel] “has more scientists, engineers, and start-ups, per capita, than any other nation in the world. Numerous Israeli firms have been acquired by leading multinationals including Google, IBM and HP.”

According to the Israel Patent Office an estimated 7,000 patent applications are filed in Israel annually. Of this total about 40% are in biotech and pharmaceuticals, another 40% are in high tech including telecommunications and computer-related inventions. The remaining 20% are in water technologies, alternative energy including solar energy, and mechanical engineering.

The list of the leading foreign companies filing multiple applications in Israel last year starts with Raytheon, F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Sanofi-Aventis, BASF and Microsoft.

Conclusion: Generally speaking, patents are registered in Israel not because of the market size, but in spite of it. They are registered due to the high level of development activity in many areas of advanced high tech and medical technologies, which exceed most other countries of the world.

The Israel Patent system is user friendly and flexible

Once you have decided that it is a good idea to obtain patents in Israel, it is worthwhile considering the main characteristics of the Israel patent system, the costs involved, and how the relevant factors fit into your international filing program.       

Filing a Patent Application in Israel

The Israel patent system is user friendly for applicants who are not from Israel. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • Language. Initial applications can be filed in any language. Applicants have several months to have their applications translated into one of Israel’s official languages: Hebrew, English or Arabic. In fact, all documents and amendments can be filed in English. Only formal correspondence has to be in Hebrew. This reduces the cost of filing and prosecution.
  • Speeding up the Process. A Notice Prior to Examination typically issues within 12-18 months after filing. The process can be accelerated if there is a commercial justification. Acceleration also applies to green patents. If an application is accepted for acceleration an Israeli patent can be granted in one year if all goes smoothly.
  • Slowing Down the Process. Applicants may decide to take advantage of the modified examination procedure, which enables a patent to be granted based on a parallel patent in a major jurisdiction. Typically this includes the US, Europe and Japan. If necessary, suspension of examination for up to 2-3 years may be requested while waiting for a parallel patent to be granted. This can only be requested after responding to a Notice Prior to Examination. Note that the normal term for response to an Office Action is four months but it can be extended to a total of 10 months on payment of official extension fees. The sole limitation on this right is that during subsequent examination the accumulated extensions cannot exceed a total of 15 months.
  • Note. Modified examination is not a free pass. If the Israeli examiner feels that the examination of the parallel patent was not sufficiently thorough the request for a modified examination may not be granted. In this case the examiner may insist on full examination for novelty, inventive step and utility.
  • Maintenance Fees. Maintenance fees for an Israel patent – even after increases that will take effect on January 1, 2013 – compare favorably with those in other countries and are payable once every four years. For details see Eye on Patents: The Latest Installment in the Overhaul of the Israel Patent System.

Foreign Companies Filing Multiple Applications in Israel in 2011

Company Name No. of applications
RAYTHEON COMPANY

109

F. HOFFMANN-LA ROCHE AG

99

SANOFI-AVENTIS DEUTSCHLAND GMBH

67

BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM INTERNATIONAL GMBH

64

BASF SE

61

MICROSOFT CORPORATION

60

GENENTECH, INC.

59

NOVARTIS PHARMA AG

59

QUALCOMM INCORPORATED

56

SANOFI

54

ASTRAZENECA AB

36

MERCK PATENT GMBH

32

THALES

30

BAYER PHARMA AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT

26

BAE SYSTEMS PLC

25

GLAXO GROUP LIMITED

24

BAYER CROPSCIENCE AG

24

NESTEC S.A.

24

GLAXOSMITHKLINE BIOLOGICALS S.A.

23

ELI LILLY AND COMPANY

                                23

[This article originally appeared on the JMB Davis Ben-David site]

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