WIPO Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) for Life Sciences

The WIPO Center provides dispute resolution advice and case administration services to facilitate contract negotiations between parties or to help parties resolve disputes in the area of life sciences.

Life Sciences Disputes

  • Fifteen percent (15%) of the arbitration and mediation cases filed with the WIPO Center relate to life sciences.
  • The subject matter of WIPO life sciences ADR cases includes contractual and non-contractual/infringement disputes. These disputes relate to patents, designs, trademarks, or know-how/data. Contractual disputes arise out of R&D agreements, joint development agreements, options and licensing agreements, manufacturing, marketing and distribution agreements.
  • WIPO life sciences cases are normally international, with amounts in dispute between USD 50,000 and up to USD 1 billion.
  • Parties involved in these disputes include originator and generic pharmaceutical companies, diagnostics and medical device companies, start-ups, research institutions, and universities, from Asia, Europe and North America.

The WIPO Center makes available examples of WIPO mediations and WIPO arbitrations in life sciences.

As time- and cost-efficient alternatives to court litigation, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms such as mediation, arbitration, or Dispute Resolution Boards, 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 that can take into account parties’ business, research and other strategic goals.

  • 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
  • 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

The WIPO Mediation, (Expedited) Arbitration and Expert Determination Rules are well suited for life sciences disputes. In addition, as part of WIPO’s COVID-19 Related Services and Support, the WIPO Center offers tailored WIPO ADR options to facilitate contract negotiation and dispute management, set out in further detail below:


WIPO Mediation, conducted by an experienced mediator appointed from the open-ended WIPO List of Experts Specialized in Life Sciences, may facilitate:

  • contract negotiation; this may be particularly useful to help bridge the parties’ respective experience or where parties wish to ensure the protection of confidential information and know-how; and
  • managing disputes once a contract has been concluded by the parties.

These mediation procedures are available to parties through the following model submission agreement and contract clause:

A WIPO Dispute Resolution Board (“DRB”) is a standing board of members who are kept informed of the project development and whose role is to assist parties with managing minor and more significant disputes as they arise. The WIPO DRB procedure is a procedure designed to manage long-term collaborations.

Key features and benefits of a DRB are as follows:

  • Efficiency: DRBs save time as their knowledge of the project allows them to act quickly in resolving disputes as “reading-in” time is significantly reduced.
  • Appointment and composition: DRB members would be appointed at the start of the contract. DRB members may include:
    • the WIPO mediator who facilitated the contract negotiation
    • the WIPO expert who reviewed confidential information during the pre-contract stage
    • any other WIPO expert
    • members of a Joint Steering Committee, or any similar committee, established by the parties
  • Powers: the parties may agree whether the DRB issues binding or non-binding determinations.
  • Fees: the fees of the DRB members would be fixed by the WIPO Center in consultation with the parties and the DRB members. In addition, parties may choose to pay the DRB members a monthly retainer in consideration for remaining informed of the project’s development and for retaining their impartiality throughout the duration of the project.

These procedures may be used in conjunction with WIPO Arbitration / Expedited Arbitration where parties cannot reach a mediation agreement or wish to enforce or challenge a DRB determination. Parties may choose whether arbitration may only commence (1) within a specified period of the DRB issuing its determination or (2) at the termination of the contract.

WIPO Arbitrators would be appointed from the open-ended WIPO List of Experts Specialized in Life Sciences. If parties used WIPO Mediation or WIPO DRB to facilitate contract negotiation or to resolve disputes, the parties may be able to use their experience of the WIPO Mediation or WIPO DRB process to narrow the scope of the arbitration.

DRB procedures are available to parties through the following model contract clauses:

The WIPO Center offers an IP valuation service under the WIPO Expert Determination Rules. Here, parties may appoint a neutral having strong expertise in IP asset valuation to determine the monetary value of the IP assets forming the subject matter of a contract or dispute.

This option can be used before the finalization of a commercial transaction between the parties, during contract negotiations, or in the course of mediation, arbitration, or court proceedings, where the subject matter of the dispute includes the economic value of the IP involved in the transaction.

The IP Valuation option is available to parties through the following model submission agreement.

Effective proceedings to a large extent depend on the quality of the mediator, arbitrator or expert. The WIPO Center maintains an international open-ended List of Experts, 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 List of Experts.

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.


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