WIPO Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) for Life Sciences

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 life sciences, without the need for court litigation.

Life Sciences Disputes

Fifteen per cent of arbitration and mediation cases filed with the WIPO Center relate to life sciences. Disputes in the area of life sciences can concern a wide range of issues faced by pharmaceutical, biosciences, medical devices and chemical industries as well as biodiversity-related issues. Highly specific subject matters may be of contractual or non-contractual nature involving, for example, patents, designs, trademarks, know-how or licensing. Disputes are often international and can relate to IP and general commercial matters.

As time- and cost-efficient alternatives to court litigation, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms such as mediation or arbitration offer parties and their lawyers the opportunity to adopt practical and satisfactory solutions. ADR allows parties to choose a mediator, arbitrator or expert knowledgeable in the specific legal field, life science sector, IP and dispute resolution. It provides a neutral forum for resolving disputes through a procedure which permits to take into account parties’ business, research and other strategic goals.

Selected Areas of Dispute

  • biodiversity
  • biotechnology
  • copyright
  • counterfeiting
  • design
  • financing
  • IP infringement
  • IP licensing
  • IP valuation
  • know-how
  • marketing authorizations
  • material transfer agreements
  • mergers & acquisitions
  • misleading advertising
  • patents packaging
  • pharmaceuticals
  • product liability
  • product piracy
  • research and development agreements
  • royalties
  • settlement agreements
  • SPCs (supplementary protection certificates)
  • software agreements (e.g. bioinformatics)
  • technology transfer
  • trademarks
  • unfair competition

Potential Stakeholders to Dispute

  • associations
  • biotech companies
  • funding bodies
  • generic companies
  • government agencies
  • insurance companies
  • IP asset management agencies
  • medical devices and diagnostics companies
  • originator companies
  • patent marketing agencies
  • research institutions
  • insurance companies
  • start-up companies
  • technology transfer offices
  • universities
  • vehicles designed to acquire, transfer or assign IP rights

WIPO ADR Services for Life sciences

  • Administration of Life Sciences Disputes

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

Examples of WIPO mediations in this area include:
- A WIPO Mediation of a Biotech Dispute
- A WIPO Mediation of a Pharma Patent License

Examples of WIPO arbitrations in this area include:
- A WIPO Pharma Patent License Arbitration
- A WIPO Arbitration of a Biotech/Pharma Dispute
- A WIPO Medical Device Related Patent Arbitration

  • WIPO Life Sciences 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 combining legal, business and/or scientific expertise in life sciences. 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 life sciences sector. This includes advice on the drafting and adaptation of ADR clauses in life sciences 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.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

The WIPO Center has provided technical assistance in the development of "Procedures for the Operation of the Third Party Beneficiary" and "Rules for Mediation of a Dispute in Relation to a Standard Material Transfer Agreement" in the context of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) of November 3, 2001. In March 2011, the WIPO Center was appointed by the ITPGRFA to act as Administrator under these Mediation Rules.

Collaboration with Concerned Stakeholders and Entities

To optimize dispute resolution in the life sciences 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 life sciences sector, the WIPO Center collaborates in particular with WIPO’s Global Challenges Division, in particular in relation to WIPO Research.

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
28 Maxwell Road #02-14
Singapore 069120

T +65 6225 2129
F +65 6225 3568

General queries: arbiter.mail@wipo.int