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7.7.2 Dismissal of an Opposition

Date Published

Key Legislation:

Patents Act:

  • ​​​​​​​s97 Re-examination of complete specifications  

Patents Regulations:

Note: This information applies to oppositions commenced before, on or after 15 April 2013, as specified.


Relevant Legislation

The Act

Section 97Re-examination of complete specifications

The Regulations

Chapter 5Opposition
Reg 9.5Completion of re-examination
Reg 22.22Exercise of discretionary powers by the Commissioner
Reg 22.26Review of Decisions
Schedule 7Fees




The Patents Act 1990 includes provisions to deal with unsubstantiated oppositions.  The Commissioner may dismiss an opposition on the request of the applicant or on the Commissioner’s own initiative.  

The relevant provisions for dismissal of an opposition are:

  • for oppositions commenced on or after 15 April 2013, regs 5.17 and 5.18;
  • for oppositions commenced before 15 April 2013, reg 5.5 as in force immediately before 15 April 2013.

The principles of law developed for dismissal of an opposition under reg 5.5 prior to 15 April 2013, continue to apply for regs 5.17 and 5.18 as in force after this date.



Argument may be required to establish a case for dismissal

An opposition may be unsubstantiated even if it requires argument to establish that the opposition should be dismissed.  The onus will initially be on the applicant to show that the opposition has no reasonable prospects of success, but the onus may shift to the opponent to explain its case if a real issue is not self-evident.

See Les Laboratoires Servier v Apotex Pty Ltd [2008] APO 11 at [18] (although this decision was made prior to 15 April 2013, its reasoning is applicable to the equivalent regs after 15 April 2013).  See also Reasons for Dismissal.

The assessment of whether a reasonable prospect of success exists will not involve an in-depth consideration of the substantive opposition, but may involve sufficient analysis to determine if the opposition has reasonable prospects of success.



An opposition may be dismissed wholly or in part

An application for dismissal of an opposition should normally be in respect of the whole opposition.  

The Commissioner may dismiss a particular ground of opposition (see for example L'Air Liquide, SA pour L'Etude et L'Exploitation des Procede Georges Claude v The Commonwealth Industrial Gases Ltd [1992] APO 1; 24 IPR 27).  However, the Commissioner should not dismiss a ground of opposition merely because it is not supported by some of the particulars (Norwood Industries Pty Ltd v Macbird Floraprint Pty Ltd [1992] APO 39; 24 IPR 368).

Where a ground of opposition has been dismissed, the opposition will proceed as if that ground of opposition is not included in the statement of the grounds of the opposition.



The statement of grounds and particulars cannot be amended pending a decision on a request for dismissal

The statement of grounds and particulars cannot be amended while an application for dismissal of the opposition is being considered.  If the Commissioner decides to dismiss the whole opposition, the opposition is concluded and the opponent cannot subsequently amend the statement of grounds and particulars.

The relevant provisions are: for oppositions commenced on or after 15 April 2013, reg 5.16(3)(a); for oppositions commenced before this date reg 5.9(2)(a) as in force immediately before 15 April 2013.



Review of a decision on dismissal

A hearing officer’s decision with respect to dismissal of an opposition is subject to review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal under reg 22.26(2)(iii).


Amended Reasons

Amended Reason Date Amended
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