Rafael prevails over IAI on airborne system patent

Reccelite system Photo: Rafael

The ruling on the Reccelite airborne intelligence photography system will be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Rafael over the coming decade.

Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) and its Elta Systems subsidiary, both state-owned defense companies, battled against the request by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., another government-owned defense company, to register a patent for an advanced weapons system developed by the latter. In the past few days, deputy patent registrar Jacqueline Malka put an end to this prolonged saga by ruling that Rafael's Reccelite system is a real invention, and dismissed the objections by IAI and Elta, ruling that the two companies would pay Rafael for the costs of the proceeding.

Reccelite is an airborne intelligence photography system developed by Rafael. The company's patent request stated that the system is designed to provide high-quality high-resolution photographs of a specific large area of interest. The system, which is carried underneath a warplane's wing, allows the supply of its output even when the plane is engaged in violent maneuvering, and in spite of changes in surface conditions.

The system's purpose is to substantially reduce gathering of information irrelevant to the mission, which can limit the daunting task of processing and analyzing output collected during the mission.

According to Rafael, the system is particularly designed for warplanes, and can function well during a high-speed flight, sharp maneuvering, and many different movements, which usually hampers high-quality photography. One of the advantages of this system is that its separation between the plane's movements and the photography system it carries makes it possible to provide high-quality output.

Since Rafael developed and manufactured the Reccelite system, the company has sold many of the systems around the world, and also launched the advanced version of it during the past decade. During all of this time, Rafael struggled to register a patent for Reccelite, while IAI and Elta argued that there was no invention in the system giving Rafael the right to register a patent for it. During the long procedure before Malka made her ruling, IAI and Elta presented a series of past professional publications they believed proved that there was prior knowledge when the system was developed, and that there was therefore no exclusive invention by Rafael.

Elbit Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE: ESLT) also previously opposed the patent, but abandoned the proceeding in 2013.

Through its representative, patent lawyer Adv. Dr. Kfir Luzzatto, owner of the Luzzatto & Luzzatto law firm, Rafael for its part presented three main principles of ownership on which the system it developed was based.

In her annotated decision, Malka found that even after looking the professional publications provided by IAI and Elta, these did not rule out the innovation asserted by Rafael in its patent request, and ruled that the request met the requirements.

Referring to one of the elements used by the system that gives it its unique capabilities, Malka wrote, "This component is not found in the previous publications, and it gives the invention 'inventive advancement' = it enables the system to operate differently than other systems."

Malka also ruled that IAI and Elta had to pay Rafael NIS 200,000 for the latter's expenses in the proceeding.

According to a defense market source, Malka's decision is likely to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars for Rafael in the coming year. Among other things, other companies will not be able to put out a competing system based on the components included in the Reccelite system for at least the next decade.

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on February 6, 2017

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2017

Reccelite system Photo: Rafael
Reccelite system Photo: Rafael
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