Is mediation the way forward for intellectual property disputes?

Hasan SadikMediation

When it comes to protecting your creative property, mediation continues to be an attractive option for all parties involved. Intellectual Property disputes occur on a regular basis and vary in their extremity dependant on the benefit each side gains from the properties in question. Mediation can be used when an initial agreement cannot be made between both sides and aims to come up with additional, mutually-beneficial solutions. Let’s take a look at how is can be used for quick and effective dispute resolution.

Reasons for IP Dispute Meditation

When we refer to Intellectual Property Disputes, we include those caused over the misuse of patents, copyrights or other related rights. They deal with the intangible properties that are legally owned by individuals or businesses. As the most basic asset for many companies, IP disputes can have a detrimental effect on business progression by interfering or entirely grounding their planned activities.

In modern businesses, companies are likely to be involved in numerous contractor relationships. The individual parties within these collaborations all provide their insight in the research, development, production and marketing of intellectual property. This can lead to confusion or cross-information that causes a breach in legal ownership such as copyrights.

Examples of IP disputes include:

  • An individual or business using, selling or importing your patented product or process without permission.
  • An individual or business using all or some of your work under copyright without your permission.
  • An individual or business making, offering or selling your registered design for commercial gain without your permission.
  • An individual or business using a trademark that is identical or similar to the one you have registered without your permission.

When to use Mediation for IP Disputes

As a variant of Alternative Dispute Resolution, mediation is considered a viable avenue after an initial agreement fails to be made. The first steps to dealing with intellectual property infringement is to set up a meeting to discuss the breach with the opposing party. In many cases, an agreement can be formed between the two sides without the need for additional intervention.

However, it is after this step proves unsuccessful that mediation steps in to help. It is widely recognised as a more cost-effective solution than going through court and can provide an agreeable result in a much shorter space of time.

Benefits of Mediation

As mentioned above, mediation is a cheaper and more time-efficient alternative to legal action. However, there are a number of other reasons why this could be the most appropriate option for each individual IP dispute situation.

  • Mediators are neutral parties in the dispute. They provide an independent, unbiased view and opinion on the situation, allowing you to come up with a fair decision for everyone.
  • The outcomes offered are usually beneficial to both parties and, therefore, more agreeable during implementation.
  • Both parties have a say in choosing the mediator. This allows for more specialised individuals or those with experience within the industry in question to provide educated and intellectual solutions that work.
  • Mediators don’t make decisions for you. They simply provide suitable solutions designed to work for both sides of the dispute and help a resolution to be found.
  • All information shared within a mediation is entirely confidently. As opposed to legal action where every lawsuit is filed as a public record, mediation provides privacy during this resolution period. It cannot be used later on during a court case or any legal action. This is particularly important when the IP rights in question refer to business confidential or trade secret information.
  • In many cases, mediation can be performed entirely online. This allows it to be used for cross-country or complex conflicts between distant parties.

Potential Solutions

Mediation continues to be a favoured choice in IP disputes due to the benefits listed above. Some common and reasonable solutions include a request for financial compensation for the unauthorised use or an agreement on a newly defined market segmentation. The solutions offered will vary due to the nature of the infringement and will aim to end things on neutral grounds for both sides.

For those seeking advice on dispute resolution for IP infringement, The Resolution People are here to offer information, support and to find the right mediator for the job.