WIPO Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) for Sports

As part of the WIPO ADR Services for Specific Sectors, the WIPO Center provides dispute resolution advice and case administration services to help parties resolve disputes arising in the area of sports, without the need for court litigation.

Sports Disputes

Touching upon a wide range of sports disputes in the sports arena often relate to highly valuable trademarks, industrial designs, copyright and related rights, and patented technologies. Sports disputes relate, for example, to sports broadcasting and media, licensing and merchandising rights for major sports events, and commercial exploitation of the image rights of athletes.

As a flexible, time- and cost-efficient mechanism alternative to court litigation, ADR helps parties in such disputes to adopt practical and satisfactory solutions. ADR allows parties to choose a mediator, arbitrator or expert with specific expertise in sports law, IP and dispute resolution. It provides a neutral forum in which an international dispute can be resolved through a single procedure. Moreover, ADR may be designed in a way so as to allow for efficient enforcement of the outcome.

Selected Areas of Dispute

  • advertising
  • copyright and related rights
  • event management
  • image rights
  • industrial design rights
  • marketing transactions
  • merchandising agreements
  • patents relating to sports equipment
  • product development
  • publishing
  • sale of television rights
  • software
  • sponsorship agreements
  • sports betting and gaming
  • sports business contracts

Potential Stakeholders to Dispute

  • agents
  • athletes
  • broadcasters
  • club
  • coaches
  • donors
  • events organizers
  • inventors
  • non-profit foundations
  • service providers
  • software developers
  • sponsors
  • sports goods manufacturers
  • sports organizations and federations
  • telecommunication providers
  • television and media companies and organizations

ADR Services for Sports

  • Administration of Sports Disputes

The WIPO Mediation, (Expedited) Arbitration and Expert Determination Rules are well suited for sports disputes.

The WIPO Rules are flexible and can also be applied in disputes that are not limited to intellectual property. In its role as administering institution, the WIPO Center maintains strict neutrality and independence.

The WIPO Center has administered several mediation and arbitration cases in the area of sports.

Examples of such cases include:
- WIPO Arbitration of a Patent License Dispute related to Sports Goods
- WIPO Arbitration of a Broadcast Rights Distribution Agreement Dispute

The WIPO Center also provides services for the resolution of domain name disputes. The WIPO Center has administered many domain name cases filed by well known individuals and entities from the world of sports

  • WIPO [Sports] Panel of Neutrals

Effective proceedings to a large extent depend on the quality of the mediator, arbitrator or expert. The WIPO Center maintains an international open-ended Panel, including mediators, arbitrators and experts from around the world with expertise in sports. They can be appointed by parties in cases under WIPO Rules but parties are also free to select mediators, arbitrators or experts from outside the WIPO Panel.

  • Procedural Guidance and Training

The WIPO Center makes available recommended contract clauses and submission agreements that parties can use to submit their disputes to ADR.

Upon request, the WIPO Center provides procedural guidance to interested parties and organizations in the Sports sector. This includes advice on the drafting and adaptation of ADR clauses in sports-related contracts and submission agreements, as well as helping to bring disputing parties to ADR.

The WIPO Center also organizes training and workshops on mediation, arbitration and related topics.

  • Establishment of Adapted ADR Frameworks

Where appropriate in light of the needs of the relevant stakeholders, the WIPO Center provides guidance in the establishment of adapted ADR frameworks, including Rules, fees and clauses, and provides administrative services thereunder.

The WIPO Center makes available, at the parties' option, the WIPO Electronic Case facility (WIPO ECAF) which allows all those involved in a WIPO case to submit communications electronically into an online case file. The WIPO Center provided 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.

Collaboration with Concerned Stakeholders and Entities

To optimize dispute resolution in the Sports sector, the WIPO Center collaborates with relevant stakeholders and organizations. This may include organization of joint events and training, and establishment of adapted ADR frameworks, and involves for example the following:

The WIPO Center is available to collaborate with other interested stakeholders.

Collaboration with Other WIPO Divisions

In the sports sector, the WIPO Center collaborates in particular with WIPO Trademark and Design Law Division, the WIPO Copyright Law Division, the Patents and Innovation Division and the Building Respect for IP Division.

Selected Resources


Arbitration and Mediation Center
Arbitration and Mediation Center
34, chemin des Colombettes
P.O. Box 18
1211 Geneva 20
T +4122 338 8247 or 0800 888 549
F +4122 740 3700 or 0800 888 550
Maxwell Chambers
32 Maxwell Road #02-02
Singapore 069115

T +65 6225 2129
F +65 6225 3568

General queries: arbiter.mail@wipo.int