WIPO Arbitration and Mediation for Fashion

The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center ("WIPO Center") provides procedural advice and case administration to help parties resolve disputes arising in the area of fashion, without the need for court litigation.

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Fashion Disputes

Disputes in the fashion industry relate to a wide variety of contracts, including retail, licensing, distribution, franchising, advertising and exploitation of image rights, among others. Such disputes can involve complex legal, commercial or management issues, and often relate to highly valuable trademarks, industrial designs, copyright and related rights and patented technologies.

The WIPO Center has engaged with stakeholders in the area of fashion to focus on how to provide effective Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) procedures that prioritize time- and cost-efficient dispute resolution, while preserving business relationships in this business area.

ADR has a number of characteristics that suit dispute resolution in the area of fashion. ADR allows parties to choose a mediator, arbitrator or expert with legal and technical expertise in the fashion industry. It also provides a neutral forum in which disputes – sometimes involving parties from multiple jurisdictions – can be resolved through a single procedure. Moreover, ADR can be set up in a way to allow for efficient enforcement of the outcome.

Selected Areas of Dispute

  • advertising
  • agency agreements
  • brand management
  • copyright and related rights
  • distribution agreements
  • event management
  • franchising agreements
  • image rights
  • industrial design rights
  • internet retail and e-commerce
  • IP infringements
  • licensing agreements
  • manufacturing agreements
  • marketing agreements
  • patents
  • product development
  • software
  • sponsorship agreements
  • trademarks

Potential Stakeholders to Dispute

  • agents
  • designers
  • distributors
  • event organizers
  • fashion houses
  • inventors
  • non-profit foundations
  • manufacturers
  • model agencies
  • service providers
  • sponsors
  • retailers
  • television and media companies

WIPO ADR Services for Fashion Disputes

  • Administration of Fashion Disputes

The WIPO Mediation, (Expedited) Arbitration and Expert Determination Rules are flexible and can be adapted to the specific needs and characteristics of parties involved in the fashion industry.

In its role as administering institution, the WIPO Center maintains strict neutrality and independence.

Example of a WIPO mediation in this area:

WIPO Mediation of a Distribution Dispute for Luxury Goods: A European watchmaking company and a United States-based company signed an exclusive distributorship agreement. The agreement included a dispute resolution clause providing that all dispute shall be submitted to WIPO Mediation followed, in the absence of a settlement, by WIPO Expedited Arbitration. In view of a dispute relating to unpaid bills and orders withheld by the United States company, the parties submitted these matters to WIPO Mediation. The WIPO Center suggested to the parties a list of candidates with specific expertise in trademarks and in the watch industry and later appointed a mediator in accordance with the parties’ choice.

Following private conference calls between the mediator and each party, a one-day mediation session took place in Geneva. With the mediator’s help the parties concluded a settlement agreement at the end of the session.

Example of a WIPO arbitration in this area:

WIPO Arbitration of a Trademark Coexistence Dispute for Luxury Goods: A European company had registered a trademark for luxury goods in different countries. An Asian manufacturer started to sell fashion products under a similar registered trademark. The Asian company filed court cases in two European countries alleging non-use by the European company of its trademark. After the court cases went to appeal, the parties settled their dispute by concluding a trademark coexistence agreement which included a WIPO expedited arbitration clause. When the European company used its trademark in a trade fair, the Asian company initiated WIPO expedited arbitration proceedings claiming infringement of the coexistence agreement.

Following consultations between the parties and the WIPO Center, a European trademark specialist was appointed as sole arbitrator. After two rounds of pleadings, the arbitrator conducted a one-day hearing and issued an award six months after the commencement of the proceedings. Finding partial infringement of the coexistence agreement, the arbitrator granted the primary remedy claimed and ordered the European company to refrain from such infringing behavior.

WIPO Fashion Panel of Neutrals

Effective proceedings often depend on the quality of the mediator, arbitrator or expert. The WIPO Center maintains a list of over 2,000 neutrals from around the world with expertise in IP and technology, including in the area of fashion. Neutrals from the WIPO list can be selected by parties in cases under WIPO Rules, while parties remain free to select mediators, arbitrators or experts from outside the WIPO list.

  • 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 energy sector. This includes advice on the drafting and adaptation of ADR clauses in contracts and submission agreements, as well as helping to bring opposing parties to ADR.

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

Collaboration with Concerned Stakeholders and Entities

To optimize dispute resolution in the fashion 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:

Contact Information

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (Geneva)
34, chemin des Colombettes
1211 Geneva 20

T +4122 338 8247
F +4122 740 370

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (Singapore)
Maxwell Chambers Suites
28 Maxwell Road #02-14
Singapore 069120

T +65 6225 2129
F +65 6225 3568

For additional information arbiter.mail@wipo.int