WIPO's Arbitration and Mediation Center Launches New Effort to Support SMEs

June 22, 2021

WIPO's Arbitration and Mediation Center is announcing a discount on certain services for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in a new effort to support these enterprises that represent the vast majority of business worldwide.

Beginning July 1, the WIPO Center will apply a 25% reduction on its fees in mediation and arbitration cases where one or both parties is an SME, or a company with up to 250 employees.

SMEs account for 90% of all companies worldwide and 70% of global employment, making them the engines of the global economy, said WIPO Director General Daren Tang.

“SMEs are the backbone of many economies and key to our economic recovery. This initiative is part of our larger efforts to help SMEs use IP to grow their businesses, by helping them save on business costs when they need to resolve IP-related disputes,” said Mr. Tang.

ADR for SMEs

While expanding their business, SMEs may be involved in disputes, including related to their development and use of IP. Especially where those disputes involve foreign parties, SMEs may struggle with the challenges of court litigation.

In offering dispute resolution services, WIPO aims to meet the specific needs and challenges of SMEs, which already represent 37% of users of the WIPO Center's arbitration and mediation services. Mediation in particular can be a time and cost-effective method for SMEs to resolve their disputes without court litigation, helping them to obtain effective results while maintaining confidentiality.

WIPO Center Director Erik Wilbers noted, “Legal disputes are part of the cost of doing business for enterprises of any size. But especially SMEs will want to look at mediation and arbitration for opportunities to save time and money on IP litigation.”

The new fee reduction will be introduced together with updated WIPO Mediation and Arbitration Rules. The Rules update reflects new developments in international mediation and arbitration and confirms the WIPO Center’s case administration practices, notably in the online conduct of cases.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the vast majority of WIPO mediation and arbitration cases has been conducted online and the settlement rate in WIPO mediations in 2020 increased to 78% from 70% the year earlier, a trend which is continuing in 2021.

While the WIPO Center’s digital tools have been available to parties for many years already, the revised WIPO Rules further facilitate the use of these tools, taking into account positive feedback received from parties. SMEs using WIPO mediation or arbitration can benefit from a new eADR guidance note for parties, as well as from a special WIPO Checklist for Online Proceedings.

In these and other ways, WIPO helps SMEs seize the benefits of dispute resolution without court litigation. Extensive information is accessible through the webpages of the WIPO Center and of WIPO’s IP for Business Division.

Futher information