Summary of Israeli law regarding the filing of patents related to national security
The Israel patent law (1967), like those of other countries, was designed to stimulate ideas by safeguarding the inventions of technological products and processes. The owner of a patent in Israel is provided legal protection against others exploiting or copying his inventions, while the general public is provided access to innovative technologies and products.
Patent laws make it possible to balance the exclusive rights of inventors on the one hand, and various other interests– legal, social, economic and security—on the other hand. It is important to note the articles in the law that relate to companies and inventors in Israel who apply for patents on technologies and equipment in the field of defense, especially homeland security: border protection, detection of tunnels, maritime, land and air transport security, etc.
Filing patent applications for patents relating to national security
An amendment was introduced in 1995 restricting the actions of the patent registrar for the purpose of defending national safety, military and nuclear secrets. As such, as part of the amendment concerning APPLICATIONS FOR SECURITY-RELATED PATENTS IN ISRAEL, the Minister of Defense may if he sees fit:
- order the patent registrar to avoid or postpone actions taken on patent applications
- prohibit the release of information or limit the publicity of patent applications
- order the registrar to release copies of patent applications to a person authorized by the Minister of Defense
The restrictions above are valid for a period of 4 months, during which the applicant may appeal the decision made by the Minister of Defense.
Another section limits the rights of Israeli citizens and residents to file patent applications for inventions that are of military value outside Israel (such as for weapons and ammunition). The restriction is not valid if the applicant has received written permission from the Minister of Defense to file the application outside Israel, or if no order is made by the Minister of Defense within 6 months of the day of application.
Utilization of inventions for national interests
A further amendment deals with the rights to use an invention for the benefit of national interests. Government offices, factories or national institutions may make use of an invention, if the minister finds it necessary for national defense purposes or for the maintenance of essential supplies or services. The right is also given to use inventions which are already patented, and license is given for outside concessions working under contract with the government and solely in the service of national needs.
Within these rights, compensation will be made to the inventor for the use of his/her invention. This will be made in mutual agreement or by a committee that will include among its members the registrar of patents and an Israeli High Court judge.
The immediate significance for Israeli inventors in the field of homeland security
Patent applications in the field of homeland security may relate to detection of radioactive substances, intelligence procedures, security of information, etc. In such cases, although the inventions are related to homeland security, the link between them and areas of military and defense is clear.
As such, the Israeli inventors and their patent lawyers are obligated to make their patent applications in Israel, and to ensure that there is no conflict with the Ministry of Defense in regards to the continuation of the application process and patent registration abroad.
The above summary does not replace a consultancy with a registered patent attorney regarding the filing of patents and national security.
Written by Daphne Levi, Patent attorney intern (2011) at Gold Patents.
Published: Israel Technologies, Sept 2010.