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ISRAEL: An Introduction to Intellectual Property: Patent & Trade Mark Agents

Israel: Intellectual Property: Patent & Trade Mark Agents

The past few months have created both challenges and opportunities for IP owners and IP practitioners in Israel. Israelis are early adopters and, therefore, were familiar with Zoom and many other tools essential to working remotely.

IP practitioners in Israel were puzzled at first when they saw that the pandemic was not creating the slowdown in IP activity they feared but, on the contrary, the level of activity had increased. Apparently, inventors, entrepreneurs and senior company personnel found more time working from home to pursue projects previously set aside or delayed because of time constraints. People were forced to discover new facets of their work and to learn new ways of doing things. Some of it turned out to be surprisingly positive; meetings that once took forever to set up with people coming from different places, each having their own busy schedule, are now organised in a matter of minutes by sending a video link invite.

The streamlining effect brought about by the need to communicate while in lockdown is also very much felt when talking to clients and colleagues all over the world. There is a unifying effect arising from the common plight, which seems to bring people together. This was felt exceptionally well during the successful INTA 2020 virtual meeting. As said, virtual meetings are here to stay, and the pandemic effects are likely to ripple into other aspects of professional life.

A long time ago, it became apparent that there is never a dull moment for IP practitioners in Israel, and the year 2020 was a perfect example of this. It started with Israel formally joining The Hague Agreement Concerning the International Deposit of Industrial Designs. Since that day, there has been tremendous interest from the local industry that seeks to take advantage of this option. It is expected that the number of design applications filed by Israeli applicants via the Hague Agreement will continue to grow also in 2021.

But the main event of 2020 for Israel in general, including IP owners and practitioners, was the peace agreement generally known as “The Abraham Accords.” Signed initially between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, the Accord then resulted in further peace and cooperation agreements with Bahrain, Sudan and finally Morocco. These agreements have far-reaching positive implications for the region’s economic development, both for Israel and for the Gulf states. Israelis are entrepreneurs and have maintained under-the-radar relationships with Arab states for many years. The moment the agreements were out in the open, a deluge of connections began, cementing business and personal relationships. IP firms immediately reached out to each other, and found professional, warm and eager business partners at the other end.

This year is expected to see growth in most of the areas in which Israel is particularly strong and in newer areas of development in which there is growing interest. One of the strengths of the Israeli industry is in cybertech. The dangers looming large for the world’s economy, which is becoming more and more dependent on digital systems, are substantial. Some hackers are modern bank robbers who try to make a profit by extorting money from enterprises, while others simply seek to destroy critical infrastructure. Both are intent on wrongdoing every day. The cost of defending our computer systems is enormous, but the biggest problem is the ever-evolving cyber-attack methods, which require the constant development of countermeasures. Israel has been at the forefront of cybersecurity for many years now. This trend clearly continues and is expected to grow throughout 2021.

Another area in which Israel is particularly active is medical devices, and Israeli companies and inventors have been prolific for many years in this field. More recently, efforts have been made to include telemedicine capabilities - whenever possible or desirable. This trend has seen exponential growth due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to continue to evolve.

Israel is also traditionally active in the life sciences arena. This is true mainly in the discovery stage, since taking a medical product through to marketing approval is outside the scope and the financial abilities of most Israeli companies.

A fascinating new field of activity that has emerged in 2020 is foodtech. Advanced food products have attracted much attention, resulting in the establishment of VCs that specialise in them. Substantial investment is funnelled into companies specialising in high-tech food products, and accelerators have taken a particular interest in them. It is expected that this trend will grow as more investment pours into this market.

An additional sector worth watching going forward is deserttech, which includes construction, water utilisation, solar energy, vegetable growth, etc., bringing solutions to forbidding environments. Israel has always been at the forefront of this technology, for instance, in drip irrigation and reverse-osmosis water purification. The Abraham Accords opened up new markets that are greatly in need of such technologies because of the Gulf states’ arid environment.