The Israeli Patent Commissioner has authorized accelerated examination of patent applications relevant to the fight against the Coronavirus. The Israeli Patent Office will now allow applicants to petition for accelerated examination of applications involving “testing, treatment, prevention, or eradication” of the Coronavirus at no charge. The broad categories mentioned in the Patent Commissioner’s authorization clearly relate to anti-coronavirus drugs and vaccinations, respiratory assist devices to aid stricken patients, and diagnostic tests for the virus. In addition, the authorization also likely relates to patent applications relating to personal protective equipment (e.g., masks, gloves), sensors, monitoring devices, and may even allow for the acceleration of patent applications in the fields of artificial intelligence, telemedicine, or remote monitoring with applications relevant to the fight against the Coronavirus.
To accelerate Coronavirus related applications, the Patent Commissioner has categorized them as a form of green technology. Green technology applications, such as those relating to solar panels, have already been granted special dispensation to allow for accelerated examination. While Coronavirus related applications definitely are not a form of green technology, the Patent Commissioner’s use of his authority to add Coronavirus related applications to the green technology dispensation is an example of the resourceful thinking needed to overcome the coronavirus crisis.
The ability to accelerate the examination of Coronavirus related patent applications is very significant, as an applicant’s ability to obtain pre-grant relief or injunctions in Israel is extremely limited. Further, as the Coronavirus crisis may be relatively short-lasting in patent terms, other solutions such as retroactive damages, or patent term adjustments are not adequate to discourage pre-grant infringement.
To sum up, acceleration is a small but welcome first step by the patent office toward adapting the Israeli patent system to the Coronavirus era. We hope additional measures will be forthcoming to ensure innovators can develop more tools in the battle against the Coronavirus.