WIPO Mediation Case Examples

Set out below are examples of mediations conducted under the WIPO Rules. The Center also makes available a summary overview of its caseload. These examples have been prepared while respecting the confidentiality of WIPO proceedings.

M1. A WIPO Patent Mediation

A technology consulting company holding patents on three continents disclosed a patented invention to a major manufacturer in the context of a consulting contract. The contract neither transferred nor licensed any rights to the manufacturer. When the manufacturer started selling products which the consulting company alleged included the patented invention, the consulting company threatened to file patent infringement court proceedings in all jurisdictions in which the consulting company was holding patents.

The parties started negotiating a patent license with the help of external experts but failed to agree on the royalty as the multimillion dollar damages sought by the consulting company significantly exceeded the amount the manufacturer was willing to offer.

The parties submitted their dispute to mediation under the WIPO Rules. The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center suggested to the parties potential mediators with specific expertise in patents and the relevant technology. The parties chose one of those mediators, who conducted a two-day meeting in which the parties eventually reached a settlement that not only covered the royalty issue, but also included agreement on future consulting contracts.

The mediation was thus instrumental in transforming a hostile situation in which the parties were preparing to engage in prolonged and expensive litigation into one in which they were able to conclude an arrangement which suits the business interests of both parties and ensures the profitable use of the technology in the service of those interests.

The Center, together with the mediator, has prepared a more detailed, step-by-step description of the development of this WIPO mediation.

M2. A WIPO Copyright Mediation

A Dutch company concluded a copyright license with a French company regarding the publication of a technical publication. The license agreement includes a WIPO mediation clause. The licensee became insolvent and defaulted on the royalties due under the license. When the licensor requested the mediation procedure, the Center, after consultation with the parties, and with approval of the court appointed liquidator, appointed an intellectual property specialist as the mediator. Following two meetings between the parties and the mediator, a settlement agreement was concluded.

M3. A WIPO Copyright Mediation Followed by Expedited Arbitration

A publishing house entered into a contract with a software company for the development of a new web presence. The project had to be completed within one year and included a clause submitting disputes to WIPO mediation and, if settlement could not be reached within 60 days, to WIPO expedited arbitration. After 18 months, the publishing house was not satisfied with the services delivered by the developer, refused to pay, threatened rescission of the contract and asked for damages. The publishing house filed a request for mediation. While the parties failed to reach a settlement, the mediation enabled them to focus the issues that were addressed in the ensuing expedited arbitration proceeding.

M4. A WIPO Mediation of an IT/Telecom Dispute

A software developer based in the United States licensed software applications to a European provider of telecommunications services. The agreement included a clause submitting disputes to WIPO Mediation, followed, in the absence of a settlement, by WIPO expedited arbitration.

A controversy arose as to whether the licensee was entitled to let certain affiliated parties have access to the software, and whether additional license fees were due in respect of those third parties. The dispute was submitted to WIPO mediation.

Taking into account the criteria identified by the parties, the Center proposed as mediator several candidates with experience in the area of software licensing and appointed a mediator in accordance with the parties’ preferences.

Mediation sessions were held at a location that was convenient to both parties. The parties developed a mutually acceptable framework for the mediation process and solved a number of the issues in dispute. Using some of the options developed during the mediation, direct negotiations between the parties continued after the termination of the mediation to solve their remaining issues. The WIPO expedited arbitration was not initiated.

M5. A WIPO Mediation of a Biotech Dispute

A French and a German company entered into a collaboration agreement for the development of a human antibody for the treatment of a major disease. Two years later, a US corporation acquired the French company. Alleging that the US corporation shortly thereafter caused certain payments required under the collaboration agreement to be withheld, the German entity filed an action for breach of contract against the US corporation in a district court in the United States. The US corporation filed counterclaims of rescission and breach of contract against the German company. After more than one year of court proceedings, the parties accepted the suggestion of the judge to submit their dispute to mediation and filed a joint request for mediation with the Center.

When the parties could not agree on the name of the mediator, the Center submitted for consideration of the parties a list of five possible candidates, meeting criteria set forth by the disputants in their mediation agreement. After some discussion, the parties agreed on one of the nominees proposed by the Center, an American intellectual property lawyer with considerable mediation experience.

The mediator conducted meetings with the parties in the United States. As a direct consequence of the facilitative role played by the mediator in the course of the case, the parties settled their dispute six months after the commencement of the mediation.

M6. A WIPO IT Mediation

A European airline entered into an agreement with a US software company concerning the development of a worldwide platform for the management of ticket sales. This was followed by a professional services agreement, which contained a more detailed description of the project as well as the support services to be delivered by the software company. The latter agreement included a WIPO mediation followed by WIPO expedited arbitration clause. The airline paid several million USD for the application. Some years later, the airline terminated the agreement. In response, the software company asserted that, with the termination, the airline’s rights in the application had lapsed and requested the software to be returned. The airline was of the position that it was entitled to retain the software application and initiated mediation. The result of the mediation was a new license between the parties.

M7. A WIPO Mediation of a Trademark Coexistence Dispute

After a dispute arose between them, a North American company requested mediation with two Italian companies and one Spanish company on the basis of an agreement which the parties had reached for mediation under the WIPO Mediation Rules. The goal of the mediation was to help the parties avoid confusion and misappropriation of their similar trademarks and to regulate future use of their marks. Although Italian was agreed as the language of proceedings, any settlement agreement would be recorded in both Italian and English.

The Center suggested to the parties potential mediators with specific expertise in European trademark law and fluency in Italian and English. The parties selected an Italian mediator with a trademark practice. The mediator conducted an initial telephone conference with the lawyers of the parties in which he scheduled the mediation timing, and agreed on the procedure.

Two months later, the mediator met with the parties in a two-day session in Milan. The meeting was held in joint session with the exception of two brief caucuses. At the end of the second day the parties - with the assistance of the mediator - were able to draft and sign a settlement agreement covering all of the pending issues in dispute.

M8. A WIPO Mediation of a Pharma Patent License

A European university holding pharmaceutical patent applications in several countries negotiated a license option agreement with a European pharmaceutical company. The pharmaceutical company exercised the option and the parties started to negotiate a license agreement. After three years of negotiations the parties were unable to agree on the terms of the license. At that point the parties submitted a joint request for WIPO mediation.

As requested by the parties, the Center appointed as mediator a lawyer who had worked in the pharmaceutical industry for many years and had considerable licensing experience. The parties requested that the mediator help them reach an agreement on the terms of the license.

The one-day meeting session allowed the parties to identify the issues and deepen their understanding of the legal circumstances. On this basis, the parties continued direct negotiations amongst themselves and reached a settlement agreement.

M9. A WIPO Mediation of a Telecom Patent License Dispute

A European telecom company licensed US, European and Asian patents relating to telecommunication technology to a US company involved in the development of wireless products. The license agreement contained a clause according to which any dispute arising out of or in connection with the agreement should be submitted to WIPO mediation, followed in the absence of settlement by WIPO arbitration.

Four years after concluding their agreement, the parties disagreed on the scope of the applications for which the licensee could use the licensed technology and, as a result, the licensor alleged that the licensee had violated its patents by using the licensed technologies beyond the scope of the license.

The European telecom company initiated a WIPO mediation. The Center suggested to the parties potential mediators with specific expertise in patents and telecommunication technology. With the mediator’s assistance, the parties were able to settle their dispute within five months of the commencement of the mediation.

M10. A WIPO Mediation in the Automotive Sector

A US based manufacturer of automotive components concluded a settlement agreement in the form of a patent license with one of its European competitors. This agreement contained a dispute resolution clause referring to WIPO Mediation to be followed, in the absence of settlement, by WIPO Arbitration with a three-member tribunal.

Two years after the conclusion of the settlement agreement, the US company submitted a request for mediation alleging infringement of its US patents and claiming royalty payments for the licensed automotive parts technology. The request specified the preferred qualifications of the appropriate mediator and the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center provided to the parties a list of candidates with specific expertise in patents and the relevant technology.

The parties selected one of the recommended mediators who convened a two-day meeting. The meeting involved various caucus sessions and the parties engaged in a continuous exchange of proposals and discussions. Such negotiations related to the amount of royalty payments sought by the US company and the renegotiation of the terms of the license relating to royalty payments.

At the end of the hearing the parties agreed on a term sheet laying down the terms of a final agreement, which enabled the parties to efficiently continue their business activities in this market.

M11. A WIPO Mediation of a Software/IT Dispute

A public research center based in Europe and a technology company also based in Europe signed a research and development agreement aimed at developing technological improvements to a phonetic recognition software. The agreement included a mediation clause under the WIPO Rules.

After several years, the technology company stopped complying with the agreed payment schedule alleging that the research center had not met the targets set and took unilateral decisions, including hiring other research groups outside the relationship while the contract with the research center was still in force.

The research center initiated mediation claiming damages. The Center proposed as mediator a lawyer with experience in technology contracts. After several months of intense negotiations facilitated by the mediator, the parties concluded a settlement agreement.

M12. A WIPO Mediation in the Area of Research and Development

A major European research institute and a French company entered into a license agreement. The agreement related to a technology in the area of building materials with an application for patent filed with the European Patent Office. The parties included in their contract a multi-tier dispute resolution clause providing for WIPO mediation, followed by court litigation.

Three years after the conclusion of the agreement the company alleged the invalidity of the license agreement and requested a refund of royalty payments in light of the rejection of the patent application by the European Patent Office. The research institute commenced mediation proceedings requesting payment of the royalty rates. The parties invited the WIPO Center to provide them with a list of mediator candidates experienced in mediation, drafting licensing agreements and specialized in patent law.

One of those mediators was selected by the parties. The mediator conducted a preparatory telephone conference with the parties including an explanation of mediation principles, the submission of documents as well as details of the mediation meeting, such as the timetable, venue and party representation. Following a dinner which proved useful to restore communication between the parties, a one-day mediation session took place in Munich, Germany. At the end of the mediation session the parties were able to conclude a settlement agreement. This settlement agreement included options for the amendment of the license agreement and payment of royalty rates, based on future decisions on the patent application, and the additional option to conclude a research and development agreement between the parties. Thus, the mediation settled within less than three months after its commencement and enabled further extended collaboration between the parties.