Several years ago, at the behest of Israel patent practitioners who were miffed that their lawyer colleagues receive a cute picture ID card every year from the bar association, the Israel PTO began issuing similar ID cards to licensed patent practitioners. Personally I never quite understood the need for this: it doesn't get me free parking anywhere or a discount on consumer goods, and if I were single there are many, many techniques I'd use before pulling out my patent practitioner card if I was trying to impress a woman. But I guess it makes some people feel official.
This week, a colleague received such an ID card in the envelope shown at right (click to enlarge, if you dare). As shown in the picture, the letter was stamped February 28, which meant it took more than a week to arrive, even though the ILPTO and the post office in question are only a few miles apart. But that's Israel Post for you. Also as shown in the picture, the envelope was addressed to (and the enclosed card was for) a practitioner named Mirit, who works in one of the offices in Tel-Aviv. The problem, also shown in the picture, although not apparent unless you go and check the patent practitioner list on the ILPTO web site, is that the address listed on the computer-generated mailing label was for a P.O. box belonging to a different office, one in Jerusalem.
It turns out this wasn't an isolated incident. Another colleague also received someone else's card, and Mirit's own office, which employs a large number of patent practitioners, reportedly received a like number of cards for people who don't work for that office.
Presumably the person preparing the mailing list somehow shifted one of the columns in the Excel spreadsheet the Office uses to keep track of practitioners, creating this massive mis-match. Or maybe the Office is using a HAL-9000 computer and it's reached the creative phase of its life.
Isn't it good to know that the ILPTO is planning to be a fully electronic office in just three months' time?