World Intellectual Property Organization

What is Arbitration?

The Center makes available a Guide to WIPO Arbitration, which may be ordered or downloaded (PDF).

Arbitration is a procedure in which a dispute is submitted, by agreement of the parties, to one or more arbitrators who make a binding decision on the dispute. In choosing arbitration, the parties opt for a private dispute resolution procedure instead of going to court.

Its principal characteristics are:

  • Arbitration is consensual

Arbitration can only take place if both parties have agreed to it. In the case of future disputes arising under a contract, the parties insert an arbitration clause in the relevant contract. An existing dispute can be referred to arbitration by means of a submission agreement between the parties. In contrast to mediation, a party cannot unilaterally withdraw from arbitration.

  • The parties choose the arbitrator(s)

Under the WIPO Arbitration Rules, the parties can select a sole arbitrator together. If they choose to have a three-member arbitral tribunal, each party appoints one of the arbitrators; those two persons then agree on the presiding arbitrator. Alternatively, the Center can suggest potential arbitrators with relevant expertise or directly appoint members of the arbitral tribunal. The Center maintains an extensive roster of arbitrators ranging from seasoned dispute-resolution generalists to highly specialized practitioners and experts covering the entire legal and technical spectrum of intellectual property.

  • Arbitration is neutral

In addition to their selection of neutrals of appropriate nationality, parties are able to choose such important elements as the applicable law, language and venue of the arbitration. This allows them to ensure that no party enjoys a home court advantage.

  • Arbitration is a confidential procedure

The WIPO Rules specifically protect the confidentiality of the existence of the arbitration, any disclosures made during that procedure, and the award. In certain circumstances, the WIPO Rules allow a party to restrict access to trade secrets or other confidential information that is submitted to the arbitral tribunal or to a confidentiality advisor to the tribunal.

  • The decision of the arbitral tribunal is final and easy to enforce

Under the WIPO Rules, the parties agree to carry out the decision of the arbitral tribunal without delay. International awards are enforced by national courts under the New York Convention, which permits them to be set aside only in very limited circumstances. More than 140 States are party to this Convention.

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