Occasionally, disputes can arise in relation to Intellectual Property (IP) rights. Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution, a way of resolving disputes without going to court. It is cheaper and quicker than litigation and the outcome is usually beneficial to all parties.
A court will expect you and the other party in dispute to have attempted to resolve matters before starting legal proceedings. It will also expect you to have properly considered a form of alternative dispute resolution.
Mediation allows you and the opposing party to talk about the dispute with the help of an independent person, a mediator. The mediator’s role is not to make a decision on the dispute but to help you to find a solution that both parties can accept.
Most types of IP dispute are appropriate for mediation. In addition to it being cheaper and quicker, there are other advantages. Mediation can: involve discussion of a broader range of issues than those that are the subject of the litigation; result in a positive outcome for all parties involved eg through licensing or commercial agreements; and help parties to maintain or even create business relationships.
Introduction to the IPO Mediation Service
The IPO mediation service was set up to help businesses and individuals resolve IP disputes quickly and effectively. A flexible fee scale has been introduced and it may be possible to arrange mediation over the telephone for some cases. The accredited mediators can help you to resolve disputes involving unregistered rights, such as copyright and design rights, as well as patents, trade marks and registered designs.
The IPO mediation service can help you resolve:
- disputes about infringement of an IP right
- disputes about IP licensing
- trade mark opposition and invalidation proceedings on relative grounds
- disputes over patent entitlement eg whether a co-inventor was employee or consultant
- copyright licensing disputes between collecting societies and users of copyright material regarding the terms and conditions of licences
Some disputes where mediation may not be an alternative to litigation include:
- trade mark disputes concerning the distinctiveness of the mark
- trademark opposition and invalidation proceedings on absolute grounds
- disputes involving IPO decisions eg refusal of a patent application or request for extension of time
How mediation works
When you have agreed with the other party to mediate you will both be required to sign a mediation agreement. The agreement is to confirm that both parties agree to:
- use mediation to try and resolve your dispute
- use one of our accredited mediators
- the location and sharing of costs associated with the mediation
On the day of the mediation the appointed mediator will meet with you and the other party separately, and together, to discuss the issues. Mediation discussions are confidential and cannot later be used in court if the dispute is not resolved.
After you have reached an agreement, the mediator will encourage and if necessary help you to record at least the main points of the agreement in writing. This helps to reduce the risk of further disputes that may arise later about what was actually agreed.
Further details and a list of other mediation providers is available.
For further information on telephone mediation and details of mediation fees (76Kb) please contact:
Tel: 0300 300 2000 - Outside the UK telephone +44 (0) 1633 814000
Intellectual Property Office
Please note that you must accept liability for the transmission of any information you send us or ask to receive from us via e-mail.
Mediation can bring about creative solutions to your business dispute
- You can preserve or even create business relationships using mediation
- Mediation will distract you less from your business activities as it can be undertaken quickly
- Agreements reached through mediation can be legally binding