Opposition hearings

Some matters and disputes will only be finalised after you've had an opportunity to present your case at a hearing. Here's how it works.  

Once the evidence stages in an opposition or dispute are complete, you'll be able to request a hearing to present your submissions.

How the process works

You can request to be heard in either an oral hearing or by written submission.

Oral hearings

An oral hearing is an interactive presentation conducted by a Hearing Officer.

Oral hearings are usually held online, but they can be held by exception at:

  • Our Canberra office
  • Another location by request.

At least one person involved in the hearing has to appear. For example if you appear, the other party can 'appear' via written submission. Alternatively, you can elect to have the matter decided by way of written submissions only.

How it works

Before the hearing, you'll need to:

  • Let us know how you'd like to attend -- via telephone, video conference or in person
  • Provide a written summary of your submissions (optional)
  • Pay the relevant fees.

At the oral hearing:

  1. The hearing officer will introduce the matter and the parties
  2. The opponent will provide oral submissions
  3. The applicant will provide oral submissions
  4. Both sides will be given the chance to make final comments on any issues raised during submission
  5. The hearing officer will conclude the hearing and reserve their decision.

Hearings by written submission

This involves making decisions based on filed evidence and any written submissions alone.

How it works

Before the hearing, you'll need to:

  • Provide a written summary of your submissions
  • Pay the relevant fees.

In your submissions, you should include:

  • Why each ground of opposition is or is not established
  • Legal arguments supporting your case
  • How each side's evidence supports your conclusion.

Hearing requirements

Each type of IP right has slightly different requirements during opposition hearings.

Trade mark opposition hearings are held orally or by written submission.

You can represent yourself or engage an IP attorney for your hearing. If you choose to represent yourself, you should become familiar with the relevant law. A good starting point is the Trade Marks Manual of Practice and Procedure:

  • Part 49 — Non-use procedures
  • Part 51 — General opposition proceedings
  • Part 52 — Hearings, reasons, decisions and appeals
  • Part 55 — Costs.

If your case is to be heard via written submission, we'll make a decision based on the evidence supplied and written submissions.

You'll need to pay the relevant fees.

Request via online services

The Commissioner will decide if the hearing will be held orally or by written submissions.

Although the hearings are informal, you and the other party will both have an opportunity to argue your cases by reference to the law and evidence, and argue against the case of the other party.

You can choose to be represented by a patent attorney or other legal professional. If you choose to represent yourself you should become familiar with section 7.8 of Patent Manual of Practice and Procedure.

If your case is to be heard via written submission, we'll make a decision based on the evidence supplied and written submissions.

Request via online services

When we receive a hearing request for a design right dispute, we'll schedule a hearing and notify you of the details.

A hearing can be by written submission, video appearance, telephone, or in person (in certain circumstances).

Request via online services

There's no official hearing stage for plant breeder's rights. Instead, the delegate will review the objection and submissions, and may request more information from either party. This may involve a new trial if required. 

We'll notify you about the decision at the time of grant.

Withdrawal from the proceedings

You can withdraw from hearing proceedings at any time. If you're starting to consider withdrawing, it's usually better to stop the proceedings sooner than later. The further into the proceedings you withdraw, the higher the expenses and the greater the risk that costs may be awarded against you.


A hearing officer will consider all submissions and evidence before making a decision.

Once it's been made, we'll notify you about the:

  • Decision on the opposition or objection
  • Statement of reasons for the decision
  • Decision on any application for awarding costs.


We may award costs in proceedings, however, the costs you can claim won't always cover what you've spent to prosecute the opposition. If an opposition or dispute proceeding is resolved before a hearing, an award of costs can still be made.


If you disagree with the decision, you can appeal to:

You'll need to make your appeal within 21 days of the delegate's decision.

Seek professional advice

We've provided some general advice on hearings.

For advice specific to your situation, you should consider engaging an IP attorney to help you.

Engage an IP attorney