Israel: New Law Regulating Designs

(Oct. 5, 2017) On July 26, 2017, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) passed the Designs Law, 5777-2017 (SEFER HAHUKIM [BOOK OF LAWS, official gazette, SH] 5777 No. 2662 p. 1176, available at KNESSET NATIONAL LEGISLATION DATABASE (in Hebrew).)  For the most part, the Law will enter into effect a year after its August 7, 2017, publication date.  (Id. § 128.)

According to a summary of the Law provided on the Knesset website, the Law aims to replace the existing arrangement for protection of designs under the Patents and Designs Ordinance 1925. (Id. Law Summary (in Hebrew); Patents and Designs Ordinance 1925, 2 HUKE ERETZ ISRAEL [LAWS OF PALESTINE] p. 1653, as amended.)  The Law intends instead to create a balance between two public interests.  On the one hand, it encourages the development of new designs by providing a monopoly (an exclusive right for a limited period) to the creator.  On the other hand, it allows the general public to use designs and limits the monopoly granted to designers to the necessary minimum required to provide an incentive for the development of new designs.  (Id.)  The content of the Law reflects technological developments, international law and especially relevant international agreements, and  Israeli court decisions.  (Id.)

Among the innovations introduced by the Law are the extension of the protection period for a registered design from 15 to 25 years, subject to requirements of novelty and uniqueness. (Designs Law, § 3.)  An additional innovation is the availability of three years of protection for unregistered designs, thereby exempting small business designers from the need to spend resources for repeated registration within a short span of time. ( Id. §§ 4 & 65; Law Summary, supra.)

The Law further includes provisions that are expected to enable the State of Israel to join the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs, thereby enabling Israeli designers to file a single request for registration of a design that will be forwarded to all signatories of the Convention. (Law Summary, supra; Designs Law, §§ 79-91; Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (in force on June 1, 1928), World International Property Organization website.)

The Law imposes criminal penalties on violators of design rights. (Designs Law, §§ 92-93.)  It authorizes requiring a defendant found to have violated design rights to pay damages, including punitive damages.  (Id. §§ 73-78.)  The Law further enables an owner of a registered design to request the Customs authorities not to release goods that allegedly violate his/her rights to the design.  (Id. § 110.)

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