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The role of the IPONZ Hearings Office

The IPONZ Hearings Office is a specialist tribunal that is responsible for administering proceedings under the Trade Marks Act 2002 in a fair, efficient and cost effective manner. Proceedings include:

  • an opposition to a trade mark application,
  • an application to revoke a trade mark registration,
  • an application to declare a trade mark registration invalid,
  • a hearing on the exercise of the Commissioner’s discretion, including a hearing on a decision to refuse a trade mark application for registration.

Once the evidential stages of a proceeding are complete, the case will be passed to an independent Assistant Commissioner, who will hear both parties before issuing a formal written decision. This decision will normally include an award of costs to the successful party. It is therefore important that parties be mindful of the possibility of a costs order being made against them before deciding to initiate, or defend, trade mark proceedings. See costs awards guidelines.

Trade mark proceedings tend to be complex, involve personal property rights, and are governed by strict formal pleading and evidential requirements. We therefore strongly recommend that you consider obtaining professional assistance from a registered patent attorney, or a lawyer experienced in contentious IP matters, if you are not familiar with this area of work. The Hearings Office must maintain its neutrality at all times and cannot provide parties with any legal advice.

Hearings Technical Focus Group

The Hearings Technical Focus Group is a forum where senior intellectual property and legal representatives meet with IPONZ to discuss Hearings Office practices, guidelines and other hearings related matters.

Read the notes from the most recent meetings.