Proposed Amendment to Israel Patent Law Made Public

In the February 2010 issue of this newsletter, an article entitled, “Israel to be Downgraded to US Special 301 Watch List” discussed the fact that Israel was to be downgraded from the US Special 301 Report blacklist of countries that fail to protect copyright adequately, and would appear only on the watch list.

This change was the result of an agreement reached during talks in Washington, where the Israel delegation was headed by the Israel Ministry of Industry, Trade Director General Sharon Kedmi.

The proposed amendments to the Israel Patent Law have now published for public comment. Essentially, if the amendment passes into Law, it will be possible to apply for an extension of up to five years for major pharmaceutical patents prior to the patent issuing in Israel. It will, however, be required for patent extensions to have issued in two countries: the US and a main European country (Italy, UK, Germany, Spain or France).

The Proposed Amendment is Number 803-10-2010-000073.

Comments

This proposal is an attempt to amend an amendment of an amendment. In 2006, Israel re-amended a poorly written amendment to the Patent Law from 2004 providing patent term extensions that allow local generic manufacturers to manufacture and export as soon as the main patent has expired in at least one of the other countries having patent term extensions.

The list of countries on the basis of which one could request a patent term extension in Israel if one received a patent there, is largely scaled back. The original list included Austria, Holland, Ireland, Denmark, Belgium, Greece, Finland, Sweden and Portugal. It seems that the patent will now have to issue in the US and a European country, instead of one or the other. The proposed amendment may undergo further revisions before passing into law.

The present amendment appears designed to require that at least two countries of those providing patent term extensions have given regulatory approval for the drug before Israel can step in. This discriminates against Israeli manufacturers and does not appear to have any basis in anything other than protectionism of the US pharmaceutical industry.

What is very clear is that Israel is not being held to task for not fulfilling obligations defined in a multinational patent treaty managed by WIPO. Nor is the problem that Israel industries flaunt Israel Patent Law.

Rather, it seems that Israel generic manufacturers such as Teva, Unipharm, Perrigo and Rafa, are too effective at manufacturing generic pharmaceuticals and supplying global markets. This development indicates strong arm tactics on the part of the US.

For further comments see The IP Factor blog.