Frequently Asked Questions

What is the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center?

The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center was established in 1994 and is an administrative unit of the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland. Its purpose is to offer arbitration and mediation 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 assisted in its operation by advisory bodies composed of 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 mutually satisfactory, agreed settlement of the dispute.
  • Arbitration: a procedure in which the dispute is submitted to one or several arbitrators who make a binding decision (an "award") on the dispute.
  • Expedited arbitration: a form of arbitration in which the procedure is conducted and the award is rendered in a short time and at reduced cost.
  • Mediation followed, in the absence of settlement, by arbitration: a procedure which combines mediation and, where the dispute is not settled through the mediation within a period of time agreed by the parties, arbitration.

The Center also administers procedures for the resolution of internet Domain Name Dispute

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 and arbitrators from the Center's database of over 1000 neutrals with expertise in intellectual property disputes.
  • Liaises with parties and neutrals to ensure optimal communication and procedural efficiency.
  • Arranges support services, including translation, interpretation and secretarial services.
  • Sets the neutrals' fees, after consultations with the parties and the neutrals, and administers the financial aspects of the proceedings.

If the parties wish, arranges for meeting support services, including hearing rooms, caucus rooms, recording equipment, interpretation and secretarial assistance. Where the procedure is held at WIPO in Geneva, the rooms are provided free of charge. A charge is made for other services, such as interpretation, translation or secretarial assistance. This charge is separate from the Center's administrative fee.

Information Technology Support: In its role as the leading domain name dispute resolution provider, the Center has developed unparalleled experience in designing and managing online proceedings. The Center routinely uses online methods to increase the efficiency and reduce the cost of ADR proceedings it administers. For example, parties to a WIPO case will be able to place their submissions and other communications in a secure online case facility that may be accessed at any time by the parties and the tribunal.

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.
  • At the request of the parties and against a fee, recommendations of neutrals, with detailed professional profiles, for appointment in disputes that are not administered by the Center.
  • 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, and the WIPO Expedited Arbitration 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 specially 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 on the arbitral tribunal or through the mediator
  • 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.

The Center has established model contract clauses and model submission agreements, which exist in several languages.

Also, at the request of a party to a dispute, the Center will offer to convene a meeting between the parties to discuss the possibility of submitting the dispute to a procedure offered by the Center. The Center can also assist in the drafting of the submission agreement.

Who are the arbitrators and mediators?

Parties may appoint their own arbitrators and mediators, or may leave the choice to the Center. For this purpose, the Center maintains lists of mediators and arbitrators, 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 arbitration and mediation. 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 or arbitrator, 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 Conferences on the subject of arbitration and mediation of intellectual property disputes, Workshops for Arbitrators, and Training Programs on Mediation in Intellectual Property Disputes. 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, including brochures reflecting the information on the web site of the Center, such as 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
Director: Mr. Erik Wilbers
34, chemin des Colombettes
1211 Geneva 20
Switzerland
Telephone number: (41-22) 338 8247
Fax: (41-22) 740 3700
E-Mail: arbiter.mail@wipo.int