Since the Intellectual Property Legislation Amendment (Raising the Bar) Regulation 2013 came into effect on 15 April 2013, new, stricter, rules have applied to parties hoping to obtain an extension of a time period for filing evidence in an Australian patent opposition.
As of the time of writing this article there have been seven published Patent Office rulings on extension requests decided under the new regulations.
Unsurprisingly, considering that an express intention of the new rules was to raise the bar on extensions of time, five of the seven requests considered under the new regulations have been refused.
However, while the situation looks grim for parties requiring additional time to prepare opposition evidence, things are not as bad as the published decisions might suggest. By definition, it is typically the most contentious cases that proceed to a hearing and a written decision. I am aware of a number of recent cases in which extensions of time have been granted, under both the new and old rules, without any need to request a hearing. Naturally, the majority of clearly worthy applications for extensions will be granted without fuss or fanfare.
And, as I explain below, there is much to be learned from the failures of those parties that have had to take their requests to a hearing!
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