The Opposition Division will first of all endeavour to reach a decision in written proceedings. Taking account of the investigations usually conducted beforehand by a primary examiner (see D-II, 5 and D-II, 6), the Opposition Division will base itself on the written submissions of the parties and, where appropriate, on other written evidence obtained, in particular, through the production of documents, requests for information and sworn statements in writing. In case oral proceedings are requested, see D-VI, 3.2.
The evidence should be submitted as soon as possible (see D-IV, 188.8.131.52).
However, if the Opposition Division considers it expedient, or if any party requests oral proceedings, oral proceedings in accordance with Art. 116(1) will be held before the Opposition Division after suitable preparation. In the oral proceedings, the parties may state their cases and put forward and argue submissions in order to clarify outstanding questions. Members of the Opposition Division may put questions to the parties.
In special, less common cases it will occasionally prove necessary in opposition proceedings for oral evidence to be taken by the Opposition Division as part of oral proceedings or for the conservation of evidence, or by a primary examiner outside the oral proceedings. The Opposition Division is not obliged to take oral evidence if it does not consider it necessary, even if a party has so requested. Oral evidence may be taken, where appropriate under oath, before the competent court in the country of residence of the person to be heard. A member of the Opposition Division may, at the request of the Opposition Division, attend such court hearings (see E-III, 1.3).
The principal means of taking oral evidence will be the hearing of witnesses and parties (see E-III, 1.6).
Only in exceptional cases will evidence be obtained at the initiative of the Opposition Division by means of oral and/or written reports by experts (see E-III, 1.8.1) or by carrying out an inspection (see E-III, 1.2, last paragraph). In view of the specialised knowledge of the members of the Opposition Division – and of the costs involved – such means should be used only as a last resort.