IP Australia has just released a summary of the main changes to Australian Patent Office practice as a result of the 'Raising the Bar' Amendments to the Patents Act that come into force on 15 April 2013. 

The changes primarily apply to patent applications for which examination has not been requested by 15 April 2013, but changes to opposition proceedings are not so straight forward.

Opposition proceedings

There are major changes in the patent opposition procedures with the intention of streamlining and speeding up the process in order to provide the public with more timely certainty on the validity of accepted patent applications. 

However, one contentious change applies to evidentiary aspects of opposition proceedings that are currently under way. 

Even if a party in a current opposition has had several extensions of time to serve evidence under the current system, the other party will be subjected to much stricter extension of time requirements if their evidentiary period commences on or after 15 April 2013. 

It will be interesting to see how the Patent Office manages the expectations of procedural fairness of the parties in such cases.

Details of these and other changes which come into effect on 15 April 2013 can be found on the IP Australia web site at  http://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/about-us/news-and-media/latest-news-listing/index9c34.html?doc=135109&view=Detail