The World Intellectual Property Organization or WIPO is an agency of the World Trade Organization. WIPO which is headquartered in Geneva was created in order to protect the intellectual property rights of the WTO’s member nations. Currently, the WTO is comprised of 184 counties. The WIPO is almost entirely self funded through the services it offers member nations. In particular, these services include intellectual property registration and the fees collected by the WIPO mediation center.
As a part of its mission to protect the intellectual property rights of its member states, WIPO has a vast registration system that it employs. Although almost all states, such as the US, have their own registration systems, WIPO is attempting to consolidate registrations for easier accessibility.
Although the WIPO performs many tasks, the Arbitration and Mediation Center is where intellectual property related disputes can be resolved. Open since 1994, the center seeks to facilitate Alternative Dispute Resolution options for members of the WTO. In addition to helping parties avoid the excessive costs of litigation (the center runs strictly on a non-profit basis), the fees collected substantially support the operation of WIPO. The center offers several types of alternative dispute resolution which may be used depending on the parties’ needs and preferences.
Claims which arise out of cyberspace disputes may take place in Geneva or in another physical location. The WIPO works closely with the International Federation of Commercial Arbitration Institutions in order to find mutually acceptable locations for dispute resolutions.
Mediation must be desired by both parties. After a bare-agreement to mediation has taken place, the parties must submit to WIPO a request for mediation. The WIPO allows for requests to be send electronically.
The WIPO has 1,500 mediators which is has on file. If asked, it appoints based on a variety of factors including geographic region of dispute, mediator qualifications, and language.
Mediators typically charge a flat hourly rate. The cost of mediators is estimated to be between $300 and $600 per hour by WIPO. The Mediator Fee must be added in addition to the Administrative Fee.
The Administrative Fee is determined by the amount of money in question. The fee imposed based upon this amount is .1%-which is not to exceed $10,000. If an amount in question cannot be agreed upon, a standard fee of $1,000 will be imposed. However, WIPO may adjust this fee after mediation if it determines that such an adjustment is necessary.
In addition to traditional Arbitration services, the WIPO also offers expedited Arbitration. As might be expected, expedited arbitration is similar to traditional WIPO arbitration, but much quicker. Most of the relevant rule changes concern filing dates. For example, an answer to an arbitration request must be filed within twenty days and not thirty. Further, a statement of claim must be included by the filing party in their request for arbitration, and a statement of defense must be included in the non-filing party’s response. Most importantly, however, proceedings may only last for three months, upon conclusion of which, an award must be entered within one month of conclusion.
Expert determination is another alternative dispute resolution tool utilized by WIPO. Expert determination has all of the advantages of other forms of ADR in that it is quick, effective and cost efficient. Expert determination is a consensual agreement between interested parties to have an issue or entire dispute resolved by an expert. Parties may be bound by this procedure just as in arbitration, although this is not a necessary requirement. One important aspect about expert determination is that its ease of use makes it quite easy to use in conjunction with arbitration or litigation on individual issues. Furthermore, parties are able to chose an expert in the complicated IP field in which a dispute has arisen-a result which is certainly not guaranteed in traditional litigation.
Experts supplied by WIPO may charge anywhere from three hundred to six hundred dollars as in mediation. However, experts also may charge a daily rate which ranges from fifteen hundred to thirty-five hundred dollars.
The determination of the appropriate fee shall be made by WIPO. The organization will take into account the complexity of the issue and the traditional rate of experts in the field, among other similar factors.
In addition to handling cases arising out of cyberspace disputes, WIPO has begun moving mediation itself into cyberspace. The Arbitration and Mediation Center now employs an Electronic Case Facility (ECAF). The ECAF allows parties to handle many parts of the mediation process online in order to reduce costs. In particular, the ECAF allows parties to submit documents to one another, and if requested, to the presiding neutral. Further, the ECAF provides “summary of case information, an overview of timelines, contact information for all parties, and the finance status of the case.”
Awards resulting from the center’s disputes can manifest themselves in a number of ways. Equitable remedies such as specific performance have frequently been relied upon and enforced by arbitration tribunals. Likewise, cash awards are frequently awarded as well. The amount of such awards can reach several hundred million dollars. Many of these remedies have resulted from claims of infringement or contractual non-performance.