WIPO Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) for Sports

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

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. Such 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, among others.

ADR for IP and Sports Disputes

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. ADR 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

Disputes in the sports arena may arise from a wide range of agreements. Such agreements often relate to:

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

Additionally, disputes may also relate to non-contractual infringements.

Potential users of WIPO ADR services may include agents, athletes, broadcasters, clubs, coaches, event organizers, inventors, non-profit foundations, service providers, software developers, sponsors, sports goods manufacturers, sports organizations and federations, telecommunication providers, television and media companies.

The Center provided a customized version of its online case administration tool WIPO eADR for use by the America’s Cup Arbitration Panel (ACAP) of the 36th edition of the America’s Cup international yachting competition, which culminated in the final regattas in Auckland, New Zealand in March 2021. In two letters to the WIPO Center, the ACAP members and secretary note their positive experience managing ACAP cases to date using WIPO eADR.

Video: America’s Cup 36 and WIPO eADR

ADR Services for Sports

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:

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

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.

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 drafting and adaptation of ADR clauses in sports-related contracts and submission agreements, as well as helping to bring disputing parties to ADR (Good Offices).

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

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.

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.

Contact Information

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
Chemin des Colombettes 34
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