Patents: Contributory Infringement

Profession:Reinhold Cohn & Partners

The Supreme Court recently issued two important judgements regarding patent laws. One judgement, dealing with parallel importation of pharmaceuticals was reviewed in our last (August 2001) newsletter. In the second judgement, the Rav-Bariach case, the Supreme Court introduced, by way of judicial legislation, the concept of Contributory Infringement into the Israeli Patent laws.

The Appellant, Rav-Bariach, was the proprietor of a patent that claimed an arrangement for prevention of car theft that includes a certain combination of elements. The system consisted of three parts: (i) a rigid bar secured to the body of the car in the vicinity of (and parallel to) the gearshift stick; (ii) a padlock body fixedly mounted onto the bar; and (iii) a padlock yoke adapted to be locked to the padlock body, thereby enclosing the gearshift. The defendant imported and marketed in Israel the padlock body and the padlock yoke, but not the rigid bar. However, the padlock was adapted so as to enable its mounting onto the bar. The District Court found in favor of defendants (the alleged infringers), because the Patents Law, 1967, does not deal with the issue of contributory infringement. The Supreme Court reversed the District Court's decision and found the defendants liable for contributory infringement of the patent.

The Supreme Court noted the absence of controlling statutory provisions. After reviewing the comparative law in the United States, England, Germany and Canada, it decided that it would be appropriate to introduce the concept of Contributory Infringement into the Israeli Patent laws by way of judicial...

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