IPONZ Trialling Short-Listed Expedited Hearings
As part of efforts to reduce the hearings backlog for both patents and trade marks, from 1st April 2021 until 30th September 2021 IPONZ will trial a system that aims to utilize spaces for hearings that become available at short notice.
Parties can settle or otherwise withdraw from a scheduled hearing prior to the hearing. Until this trial the unused hearing dates of those parties has not been readily available for use by other parties as the order of scheduled hearings had been retained.
However, the trial will give parties the option of being on a short-list of parties that can be contacted in the event that previously scheduled hearings become available or if hearings capacity is increased. Unless a party has elected to be heard on the papers all the parties will have to agree to be on the short list, and upload a signed letter to that effect to the case management system. Depending on factors such as the expected complexity of the proceedings IPONZ reserves the right to deny the entry of particular proceedings onto the short-list, and will decide which proceedings are eligible on a case-by case basis.
Once accepted onto the short-list the initiating party will have 1-month to file and serve its submissions and the responding party will then have 2-weeks to file its own submissions. Thereafter unless normal pre-hearing directions deadlines can be accommodated the IPONZ Hearings Office will correspond with both parties regarding acceptable turnaround times for remaining deadlines.
In the event that hearing dates can be reallocated the IPONZ Hearings Office will advise a chosen set of parties on the shortlist, who will be given a minimum of 20 working days notice of the allocated fixture date(s). Those parties will be expected to make every effort to take up the re-designated hearing dates, failing which they will be removed from the short-list unless there is a reasonable explanation for being unavailable.
The inclusion of a proceeding on the short-list will not guarantee that it will receive an expedited fixture date, and proceedings that are on the short-list will also retain their place in the queue on the general hearings list.
Author: Quinn Miller