The new Israel Design Law1 will come into force on August 7, 2018. As of that date, all registered designs filed according to current Designs Ordinance will be published, including registered designs that according to the ordinance were supposed to remain closed for public inspection for a period of two years from their filing date.
The Patents and Designs Ordinance, 1924, does not include provisions allowing the publication of the design in the official Designs Journal upon registration. The only details that do get published are registration number, class the design was registered in, filing date, proprietor name, title and priority claim (if claimed). Under the current law not only the design's visual description remains unpublished, the Ordinance further includes provisions that block access to the registered designs for inspection by the public for a two year period after registration except for inspection by the proprietor, a person authorized in writing by the proprietor or a person authorized by the registrar or by the court (Article 35(1))
According to Registrar Letter M.A. 48, if petitioned to do so, the Examiner may allow a search of registered designs that are still in the blackout period, on the following grounds:
- The person requesting to inspect the registered design received a cease and desist letter for infringing the registered design;
- A law suit was filed against the person requesting to inspect the registered design for infringing said registered design;
- A person is interested in filing an appeal for the cancellation of a registered design because, according to him, there is a concern that the registered design is an imitation of a product that was marketed in Israel; and
- The purpose of the inspection is to avoid infringing a registered design, conditional that the interested person is a manufacturer of products from the same field in which the design was registered.
Thus, the proprietor of a registered design knows that his/her design's visual description will remain unavailable for third party inspection for a two-year period from its date of filing, aside from those exceptions mentioned above.
However, all of this changes upon the new Design Law taking effect. Article 131(a) of the new law prescribes that the visual description of all registered designs registered by August 7, 2018 will be published by the Israeli Patent Office within 30 days from that date. Designs filed under the old ordinance, but will be registered after August 7, 2018, will be published upon their registration.
It is worth noting that Article 22(a) stipulates that a design application filed after the new law comes into force will be published, including its visual description, on the Israel Patent Office website soon after its filing. However, the new law enables deferred publication for a period of time not exceeding six months from its filing date (Article 22(b)). The applicant will be able to request at any time to publish the application before the deferred publication period is over.
In conclusion, every proprietor of a registered design, or the applicant of a currently pending application, that have filed his application after August 7, 2016 (two years before the new law comes into force), should take into consideration that starting August 7, 2018, the visual representation of its registered design be visible and available to third parties.
1 In connection with the new Design Law, see our article "Newly Enacted Design Law Heralds a Modern Era for Design Protection in Israel".
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