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WIPO Mediation Case Examples

Set out below are examples of mediations conducted under the WIPO Rules. These examples have been prepared while respecting the confidentiality of WIPO proceedings.

Patent Mediations

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.

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.

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 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.

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

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 WIPO 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.

Two European companies involved in court proceedings concerning alleged patent infringements and patent invalidity claims in relation to aircraft equipment decided to submit their dispute to WIPO Mediation to be followed, in the absence of settlement, by WIPO Arbitration.

In their submission agreement, the parties designated two co-mediators, one being a patent specialist and one having extensive experience in the practice of mediation. The mediation took place entirely online. The co-mediators first held individual preparatory meetings with each party. Then, two mediation sessions, followed by individual caucuses and a third mediation session, allowed the parties to resolve their dispute and conclude a settlement agreement less than five months after the commencement of the mediation.

Trademark Mediations

In a trademark dispute between two companies from Asia and Europe in the telecommunications sector, the parties decided to suspend court litigation and refer the dispute to WIPO mediation. An experienced mediator was selected and, following preparatory calls with each party separately and together, the parties and the mediator had a one-day mediation session. Throughout the meeting, the parties worked closely with the mediator on options for settlement that resulted in a global resolution of the parties differences. The mediation was critical not only to resolve the trademark dispute (in less than three months), but also to control and prevent the dispute and connected litigation from going global and becoming costly, time-consuming and disruptive for the parties, while reaching a commercial solution that allowed both parties to continue with their businesses.

A North American large-sized company and a European SME had been involved for over 6 years in an international trademark dispute, concerning nearly 1,500 trademarks and comprising over 60 pending proceedings before IP offices and courts worldwide. Previous attempts to negotiate a settlement on an ad hoc basis had not been conclusive. Following the suggestion of a judge in one of the pending court cases, the parties accepted to submit their dispute to WIPO Mediation and jointly filed a detailed mediation submission agreement with the WIPO Center.

The parties asked the WIPO Center to provide them with a list of bilingual mediator candidates experienced in international and a number of national trademark laws. One of those mediators was selected by the parties. The mediator conducted multiple online preparatory meetings, some with both parties’ counsels and some with each party and their counsels individually. After a four-day mediation session held at WIPO in Geneva with the support of an interpreter, the parties signed a complex settlement agreement providing for cross-licensing, assignment, coexistence, cooperation, withdrawal of proceedings and partial trademark withdrawals, allowing them to put an end to the totality of pending court and administrative proceedings. This settlement agreement was concluded less than four months after the commencement of the mediation.

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 WIPO 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.

Two not-for-profit organizations (NGOs) based in different European countries and active in similar areas were engaged in trademark opposition proceedings before the European Intellectual Property Office. Following initial contact with a WIPO mediator, they decided to submit their dispute to WIPO Mediation. One of the parties’ main considerations for choosing WIPO Mediation was the confidentiality protection framework applicable under the WIPO Mediation Rules.

The WIPO Center formally appointed the mediator chosen by the parties. Following three mediation meetings held online and direct negotiations amongst the parties between the mediation sessions, the parties were able to settle their dispute and agree on a settlement term sheet three months after the commencement of the mediation. The settlement agreement, which made reference to the parties’ mutual respect for each other’s work and past cooperation, left the door open for future collaboration opportunities.

Examples of WIPO Trademark Mediations before IPOS can be consulted here.

Copyright Mediations

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.

In the context of a dispute between a number of national and international TV broadcasters and various collecting societies from several European countries on the royalties to be distributed by the collecting societies, the parties decided to submit the dispute to WIPO mediation.

As requested by the parties, the WIPO Center appointed an experienced mediator as well as a legal expert on certain copyright aspects.

The two mediation meetings allowed the parties to identify the issues in dispute and underlying interests; at the end of the second meeting, the parties were able to conclude a full settlement agreement.

IT Mediations

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 WIPO 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.

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 WIPO 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.

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.

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.

A European software developer entered into a software licensing agreement with a European customer which included a contract clause providing for WIPO Mediation followed by court litigation.

In a dispute regarding non-execution of the agreement and related damages claims, the parties initiated mediation and the WIPO Center appointed a mediator with experience in technology contracts. The mediation sessions took place entirely online, with live interpretation, and a settlement agreement was concluded within six months after the commencement of the mediation.

Research & Development Mediations

Two medical device companies based in Asia entered a series of agreements for the development of a specialized, patient-specific customizable medical device. A dispute arose between the parties regarding the unauthorized use of IP and confidential information concerning the parties' patent applications. In the course of arbitration proceedings, parties agreed to suspend the arbitration for two months to attempt to resolve the dispute through WIPO Mediation. Accordingly, the parties jointly requested the WIPO Center to appoint a mediator with experience in mediating patent disputes. Following several mediation sessions, the parties continued negotiations and concluded a settlement agreement.

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 WIPO Center.

When the parties could not agree on the name of the mediator, the WIPO Center submitted for consideration of the parties a list of five possible candidates, meeting criteria set forth by the parties in their mediation agreement. After some discussion, the parties agreed on one of the candidates proposed by the WIPO 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.

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.

Other Commercial Mediations

Two companies involved in medical supplies entered supply and license agreements to market pharmaceutical products in some European countries. A dispute arose between the parties concerning the termination of the agreements due to an alleged material breach of contract by one of the parties. The agreements contained a dispute resolution clause referring the dispute to WIPO Mediation followed by court litigation in the absence of a settlement. Accordingly, the parties jointly requested the WIPO Center to appoint a mediator with demonstrated experience in commercial agreements within the field of medical supplies. The preparatory conference facilitated by WIPO was conducted online, followed by an in-person mediation meeting. During the mediation meeting, the parties identified several mutual grounds for settlement. They agreed to modify the existing supply and license agreements instead of terminating them, subject to the parties' implementation of some binding terms included in the settlement term sheet concluded during the in-person meeting. After four months of direct negotiations between the parties, they re-approached the mediator and the WIPO Center to resume mediation and finally concluded a settlement agreement.

Contact us

Contact Information

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