Trademarks are registered in Israel by the Patents, Designs and Trademarks Authority (“The Patents and Trademarks Authority”), an independent agency operating under the Ministry of Justice, which replaced the former Patents, Designs and Trademarks Department of the Ministry.

Eligibility for Registration

To be eligible for registration as a trademark, a mark must have a distinctive character, such that it can serve to distinguish the goods or services of the applicant from the goods or services of other businesses. Both word marks and graphic marks (devices) may be registered. Three dimensional marks may be registered if the shape is not merely functional and serves to indicate the source of the mark. However the threshold of proof is quite high. Generic marks are inelligible for registration. Descriptive marks require proof of secondary meaning. Certain marks, such as marks impying a connection to the state and immoral marks are not allowed.

Trademark Registration Procedure

A trademark registration application must be submitted to the Patent and Trademarks Authority in the form set out in the Trademark Regulations. The application contains details of the claimant and specimens of the mark. The application must set out the goods or services for which the registration is requested. Applications are allowed for both goods and services divided into 45 classes as per the Nice Classifications. It is now possible to file multi-class applications.

In the first instance, an examiner from the Authority examines the application in light of the law and issues a decision stating whether the mark is to be accepted for registration or rejected. The examination may raise objections on both absolute and relative grounds. A typical ground for rejection is confusing similarity with an existing mark. Other grounds may be that the mark is not sufficiently distinctive, such as if it is generic in nature or if it is descriptive and lacks secondary meaning. The Registrar may also condition acceptance of the application upon a waiver by the applicant of a claim to exclusive use of any generic or descriptive terms forming part of the mark. The normal form of such waiver is: "registration of the mark will not grant exclusive use of the word (the generic or descriptive term) except in the combination of the mark". The Registrar has stated that he will use this authority less in the future, leaving it for the courts to determine the scope of protection.

If accepted for registration by the Registrar, the mark is then published in the official Trademarks Journal, which appears online. Any member of the public may file an opposition to the application within 90 days of the publication. If an opposition is filed, an adversarial proceeding is conducted before the registrar, who issues his ruling. The ruling may be appealed.

Costs and Timeframe

In the normal course of events, examination may take between six months to a year, registration may take between nine to 15 months from the date of application. An expedited examination may be requested on special grounds, typically where there is already a claimed infringement or imminent infringement. If an opposition is filed, the timeframe for issuance of the mark will be considerably longer than above.

The application fee is currently NIS 1590 for the first class, and NIS 1,100 for each additional class in the same application. The fee for an expedited examination is NIS 750. Renewal fees are NIS 2665 for the first class, and NIS 2,000 for other classes included in the same registration. Other fees are payable for filing of an opposition and other actions.

Term and Validity

Under Israeli law, a trademark registration is valid for ten years from the date of application. The registration may be renewed for further periods of 10 years each renewal.

International Aspects

Israel is a member of the Paris Treaty. Therefore, where an applicant has filed an application in a treaty member state within the six months preceding his application in Israel, and where a competing application for the same mark is filed by another party, the date of that earlier member state application will be considered as the relevant date for the purposes of deciding priority between the two applications.

Israel is also a party to the Madrid Protocol. In line therewith, it is now possible to submit international applications under the protocol through the Israel Trademark office, and Israel also accepts international applications, designating Israel, filed in other states. An opposition or rejection must be argued before the Israeli office.

Infringement and Remedies

Registration of a trademark entitles the owner to the exclusive right to use the mark in respect of the goods or services for which it was registered. Use of the mark, or a confusingly similar mark, for the same or closely related goods or services will be an infringement. Well known marks receive broader protection, which may stretch across a broader spectrum of goods and services. Infringement of a trademark entitles the owner to damages as may be proven and, usually, to an injunction barring further infringement (subject to the discretion of the court). In many instances, infringement will also constitute the tort of passing off, entitling the owner to statutory damages in a sum of up to NIS 100,000 per infringement under the Commercial Torts Act.

Updated March, 2013

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.