What is the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center?
The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center was established in 1994 and forms part of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland. Its purpose is to offer arbitration, mediation and expert determination services for the resolution of commercial disputes between private parties involving intellectual property. The dispute resolution procedures offered by the Center, which lend themselves also to other types of commercial disputes, constitute alternatives to court litigation.
The Center is international, independent and neutral, and is supported by external experts in international dispute resolution and intellectual property.
Which dispute resolution procedures does the Center offer?
- Mediation: a non-binding procedure in which a neutral intermediary, the mediator, assists the parties in reaching a settlement of the dispute. (Depending on the parties' choice, mediation may be followed, in the absence of a settlement, by arbitration, expedited arbitration or expert determination.)
- Arbitration: a neutral procedure in which the dispute is submitted to one or more arbitrators who make a binding decision on the dispute. (Depending on the parties' choice, arbitration may be preceded by mediation or expert determination.)
- Expedited Arbitration: an arbitration procedure that is carried out in a short time and at a reduced cost. (Depending on the parties' choice, expedited arbitration may be preceded by mediation or expert determination.)
- Expert Determination: a procedure in which a dispute or a difference between the parties is submitted to one or more experts who make a determination on the matter referred to by the parties. The determination is binding, unless the parties have agreed otherwise. (Depending on the parties' choice, expert determination may be preceded by mediation or followed by (expedited) arbitration.)
What case administration services does the Center offer?
To facilitate the resolution of intellectual property disputes, the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center:
- Helps parties submit existing disputes to WIPO procedures in cases where they had not previously agreed on a WIPO clause.
- Assists in the selection of mediators, arbitrators and experts from the Center's database of over 1000 neutrals with expertise in intellectual property disputes.
- Sets the neutrals' fees, after consultations with the parties and the neutrals, and administers the financial aspects of the proceedings.
- Liaises with parties and neutrals to ensure optimal communication and procedural efficiency.
- If the parties wish, arranges for meeting support services, including hearing rooms and caucus rooms. Where the procedure is held at WIPO in Geneva, the rooms are provided free of charge. A charge is made for any other services that may be required. This charge is separate from the Center's administrative fee.
WIPO Electronic Case Facility (WIPO ECAF): To assist in the provision of time and cost efficient proceedings, the Center makes available at the parties' option the WIPO Electronic Case Facility (WIPO ECAF). WIPO ECAF, which is accessible through the Center’s web site, allows for secure filing, storing and retrieval of case-related submissions in an electronic docket, by parties, neutral(s) and the Center, from anywhere in the world. WIPO ECAF also facilitates case management for all actors in a WIPO proceeding by providing, in addition to the online docket, a case overview, time tracking and finance information.
While WIPO ECAF is available only to parties to a WIPO procedure, the Center, under certain circumstances, makes available this facility in non-WIPO procedures. For example, the Center provides a customized version of WIPO ECAF for use in the Jury procedure of the 32nd America’s Cup, the international yachting competition that commenced in 2004, culminating in the final regattas in Valencia, Spain in summer 2007.
What other services does the Center offer?
In addition to its role in administering disputes under WIPO procedures, the Center provides the following services:
- Assistance in the drafting of contract clauses providing for the submission of future disputes to WIPO procedures.
- Development of tailor-made dispute resolution procedures for specific commercial circumstances or industry characteristics.
- Training programs for mediators and arbitrators as well as conferences on intellectual property dispute resolution.
- Good Offices services, facilitating discussion by the parties of whether a specific dispute should be submitted to a WIPO procedure.
How are the WIPO dispute resolution procedures conducted?
Each of the ADR procedures offered by the Center is conducted pursuant to Rules: the WIPO Mediation Rules, the WIPO Arbitration Rules, the WIPO Expedited Arbitration Rules, and the WIPO Expert Determination Rules.
These Rules, which exist in several languages, incorporate the latest developments in the area of dispute resolution and can be used in any legal system in the world.
Who can use the WIPO dispute resolution procedures, and where?
The procedures are open to any person or entity, regardless of nationality or domicile. They may be held anywhere in the world, in any language and under any law chosen by the parties. Through its membership of the International Federation of Commercial Arbitration Institutions (IFCAI) and a number of Cooperation Agreements, the Center is able to assist parties to organize meeting rooms when hearings are not held in Geneva.
For which disputes can the WIPO dispute resolution procedures be used?
The Rules governing the WIPO dispute-resolution procedures contain features that are especially suitable for disputes involving intellectual property, such as licensing agreements or other forms of transaction relating to patents, trademarks, copyright or know-how. However, the Rules can be used for the resolution of all commercial disputes, including those not involving intellectual property.
Why use the WIPO dispute resolution procedures?
The WIPO dispute-resolution procedures offer:
- One single procedure (as opposed to several court actions in different countries), which, in the case of arbitration, produces a result that is final and enforceable internationally
- Savings of time and cost
- Party autonomy in choosing the applicable law, procedure and language of the proceedings
- Neutrality in relation to the law, language and institutional culture of the parties
- The possibility to have specialized expertise represented by the arbitrator, the mediator or the expert
- Strict confidentiality
- Modern rules accommodating the specific characteristics of intellectual property disputes
How are disputes referred to the WIPO dispute resolution procedures?
For disputes that may occur in the future, parties may include a clause in their contract providing for the reference of all disputes under that contract to one of the WIPO dispute resolution procedures. For existing disputes, parties may conclude a submission agreement providing for the reference of the dispute.
If appropriate, the Center can assist parties in adapting the model clauses to the circumstances of their contractual relationship. The Center can also assist parties in drafting special clauses for commercial situations in which a limited number of companies are frequently involved in disputes with each other that concern overlapping intellectual property rights. Because of the general commercial scope of the WIPO Rules, WIPO clauses are also suitable for inclusion in contracts and use in disputes that do not involve especially intellectual property.
What is the case experience of the Center?
Parties from a multitude of jurisdictions used the services of the Center, which makes available a general overview of its caseload.
Who are the arbitrators, mediators and experts?
Parties may appoint their own arbitrators, mediators and experts, or may leave the choice to the Center. For this purpose, the Center maintains lists of mediators, arbitrators and experts, including comprehensive details of their qualifications and experience. The persons listed represent a wide variety of specialization in all fields of intellectual property and in dispute resolution. The lists, which are constantly expanding, presently comprise over 1,000 persons from 70 countries.
What does WIPO dispute resolution cost?
The Center operates on a non-profit basis. In respect of each procedure, fees are payable to the Center and to the mediator, arbitrator or expert, which are calculated in accordance with a standard schedule of fees on the basis of the amount in dispute. The Center believes that effective dispute resolution must be affordable.
What does the Center offer besides dispute resolution procedures?
The Center regularly organizes Workshops and Conferences on the subject of intellectual property dispute resolution. These events, which usually take place at the headquarters of WIPO in Geneva, are open to any interested person.
How to contact the Center for further information and publications?
Advice, information and publications, such as Guides to the WIPO procedures, the WIPO Rules (pdf) and the Recommended WIPO Contract Clauses and Submission Agreements in different languages, may be obtained as follows:
WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
34, chemin des Colombettes
1211 Geneva 20
Telephone: (41-22) 338 8247
Fax: (41-22) 740 3700