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WIPO ADR Highlights 2023

Rise in IP, Innovation, and Tech Disputes Referred to WIPO in 2023

In 2023, the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (WIPO AMC) was involved in the resolution of 679 intellectual property (IP), innovation, and technology disputes. This represents a 24% increase from 2022 and 280% in the last 5 years.

These disputes were referred to WIPO Mediation, Arbitration, Expedited Arbitration, Expert Determination, and Good Offices, as well as co-administration schemes with national IP and Copyright Offices and Courts. Notable increases occurred in mediation requests for copyright disputes, especially in collaboration with the national Copyright Offices of Colombia and Mexico, and IP disputes referred by courts in China, France, and Tanzania.

The disputes covered a wide spectrum of IP areas, with copyright and digital content (76%), trademarks (12%), and patents (5%) being the most common. Of those disputes under the WIPO ADR Rules, 43% related to copyright and digital content, 27% to trademarks, and 10% to patents (including some high-profile SEPs/FRAND and life sciences disputes). 96% of co-administration cases related to copyright.

Major business sectors in disputes included creative industries (collective management, video games, esports, software), ICT (FRAND, telecom), and life sciences (biotechnology and pharmaceuticals).

In 2023, SMEs, including startups, creators, and innovators, comprised 51% of the parties in dispute, followed by collective management organizations (23%), large-sized companies (13%), and other entities, including universities and R&D centers (13%).

In 2023, parties involved in disputes came from all regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, and Oceania.

Procedures were conducted in multiple languages, including Chinese, English, French, German, Korean, and Spanish.

Online case administration tools, including WIPO’s eADR platform and videoconferencing systems, continued to be widely used, with the shift to online tools continuing to increase in 2023.

WIPO Domain Name Dispute Resolution Record Set in 2023

The WIPO AMC saw another record year in domain name dispute filings, comprising nearly 6,200 complaints filed by brand owners in 2023, an over 7% increase from 2022 and a 68% increase since the onset of the COVID pandemic.

Cases filed covered nearly every industry, with the top sectors being banking and finance, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, Internet and IT, and retail. The United States of America, France, and the United Kingdom represented the top filing country locations.

In recent years, cases involved not only traditional “cybersquatting” but increasingly were used to tackle fraud and phishing attacks using domain names.

Examples include C&J Clark v. Barth, et al., WIPO Case No. D2023-2969, concerning 430 CLARKS-related domain names, the largest case filed with WIPO in 2023 in which the WIPO Panel dealt with the use of multiple registrant aliases and found in favor of the Complainant, preventing the need to file more than 400 individual complaints and thereby saving substantial resources. Representative of a growing trend in fraud and phishing cases, in W.W. Grainger v. Joe, WIPO Case No. D2023-4090, the registrant impersonated a senior executive of the brand owner to seek payment of allegedly overdue accounts; the WIPO Panel did not hesitate to find that the registrant acted in bad faith and the Complainant was able to reclaim the domain name and prevent harm to the public.

Beyond “.com”, this record includes increases in filings covering the country code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs) of .AI (Anguilla), .AU (Australia), .CN (China), .EU (European Union), .GE (Georgia), .MA (Morocco), and .MX (Mexico). In 2023, WIPO began accepting cases for the .GA (Gabon) and .MG (Madagascar) ccTLDs.

Expanding WIPO ADR Engagement

The WIPO AMC continued its outreach efforts in 2023, participating in over 120 virtual and in-person events with over 12,100 registrants from 163 countries.

Highlights included two online mediation and arbitration workshops, an in-person advanced workshop on domain name dispute resolution in Geneva, events on ADR for disputes related to digital copyright and content, FRAND, life sciences, and video games, as well as training programs on ADR for SMEs, youth innovators, and women entrepreneurs.

WIPO’s social media presence and outreach efforts achieved substantial growth, with the WIPO AMC’s LinkedIn page passing 19,000 followers and the ADR Highlights Newsletter now with some 8,500 subscribers. The WIPOD Arbitration and Mediation Matters podcast has been downloaded over 4,500 times and initiatives like the WIPO Mediation Pledge and WIPO ADR Young continue to gain widespread support.

In 2023, the WIPO AMC launched ADR orientation sessions, a service that offers users involved in IP disputes the opportunity to schedule one-on-one meetings with AMC staff. During this period, 120 sessions were conducted, with participants coming from 45 countries across various business areas.

IP ADR and Member States Collaboration

The WIPO AMC strengthened its collaborations with Member State IP and Copyright Offices and Courts in 2023, engaging in multiple initiatives related to ADR for IP and technology disputes.

New collaborations were established with entities from Albania, Algeria, Mongolia, Namibia, Türkiye, Tanzania, and Uruguay. In total, the WIPO AMC now collaborates with some 80 national entities.