Israel and Innovation – a Good Match

written by David Postolski, Patent Attorney at Gearhart Law

Israel Flag

Having been invited to present at the AIPLA and AIPPI Conference March 20-22, 2016, in Tel Aviv to speak about Post Grant Review proceedings for patents, I was honored to travel to Israel. I must admit that my trip to Israel was one filled with doubt and fear of the unknown, having not been there for almost 15 years, and never having gone as a professional Intellectual Property attorney. 

However now my trip to the Holy Land of Israel is complete. Wow! To sum it up: Having traveled there before because my father is in fact Israeli the surprise had more to do with my first time being in Israel as a professional, in a suit, with cufflinks, and as part of the AIPLA (American Intellectual Property Law Association) delegation of 13 U.S. Intellectual Property and patent lawyers and as a speaker at the AIPPI (International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property) Conference on the economy of innovation. 

Israel takes its IP seriously both in high tech and life sciences and rightfully so, as it is the startup nation and is now known as the scale up nation. Israel has the highest per capita of Ph.D.s and the technology and Pharma research to back it up.  Speaking on post grant review proceedings was an honor and experiencing Israel through the eyes of their patent attorneys (equivalent to U.S. patent agents) was rather eye opening for me.  

The delegation tour started with a visit to Israel’s Ministry of Justice IP division where we met with advocate Howard Poliner and then continued to the Israel patent office where we met with the commissioner of patents Asa Kling.  The discussion was not only exciting but eye opening to learn of Israel’s high ranking place in the world of innovation and international patent filings.  We then visited the first of two technology transfer offices of Israel’s largest universities. First, we visited Yissum Research and Development Hebrew University in Jerusalem (responsible for diverse inventions ranging from the seedless cherry tomato, Mobileye technology for automobiles and their dementia drug Exelon). A few days later we visited the technology transfer office of Ben Gurion University, a world leader in agricultural innovations. The university is located in a cyber park in the city of Be’er Sheva, which is fast becoming and is appropriately named Israelis hi-tech park. Companies from all over the world have opened offices there and the energy is frenetic and exciting to be around. 

At the Conference we heard from many dignitaries including but not limited to Israel’s Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked, Israel Supreme Court Justice Hanan Melcer,  India Supreme Court Justice AK Sikri, Director General of the World IP Law Organization (WIPO) and members of Israel’s Chief Scientist Office (CSO). The CSO mission is to match and fund businesses that want to move into world markets as well as assist U.S. businesses to move into and break into markets.   Due to its size it’s very easy to see that the key innovation players in Israel have put the country in a strategic place among the top five countries for IP (U.S., Europe, China, Japan, and Korea).   

When God spoke to Moses at the burning bush, Israel was referred to as a “good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey…”  Scholars have said that the key word is “flowing.” Fruit trees grow in many different terrains, but their produce only overflows with nectar or honey when the land is especially fertile.  Similarly, animals survive in many habitats, but only overflow with milk when they are in particularly fertile pastures.  Thus, Israel is often referred to as a “land flowing with milk and honey” as it is indicative and symptomatic of a greater good—the fertility of the Promised Land.  Israel is now known as the startup nation or in more recent years the scale up nation. Innovation is in their DNA. Invention is what built Israel as the startup nation and invention will take this fertile nation of entrepreneurs and lead them into the future as the scale up nation. 

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