The World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”) has announced its Arbitration and Mediation Center received a 15 percent increase in mediation, arbitration, and expert determination case requests in 2018. According to a press release issued by WIPO, the Center received 60 intellectual property cases throughout the year. In addition, the Center received 95 Good Offices requests in 2018. Such a request asks WIPO to provide procedural assistance to intellectual property stakeholders who do not have a formal dispute resolution agreement in place.
Patent-related disputes are the most common in WIPO’s caseload, followed by information and communications technology (ICT), trademark, and copyright disputes. WIPO cases include transactions such as R&D agreements, patent licensing agreements, trademark co-existence agreements, distribution agreements, software agreements, film co-production agreements, and consortium agreements. (Annex 7)
Companies, including multinationals and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), were the most frequent users of WIPO mediation and arbitration, followed by individuals, research institutions and universities, as well as copyright collective management organizations. Europe remains the most frequent location of parties (53%), followed by North America, Asia, Latin America, and Africa. (Annex 8) Nearly 60% of cases involve parties that also use WIPO’s PCT, Madrid, or Hague Systems.
In 2018, the WIPO Center began collaborations with 15 additional national IP and Copyright Offices for the promotion of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) options and their possible combination with these institutions’ existing services. The WIPO Center now engages with some 39 IP Offices (IPOs) around the world. (Annex 8) During the 2018 WIPO Assemblies, the WIPO Center presented a new edition of the WIPO Guide on ADR Options for IPOs and Courts.
In addition, WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center received 5,655 cases related to domain name disputes. Of those, 3,447 cases were filed under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (“UDRP”) over “websites used for counterfeit sales, fraud, phishing, and other forms of online trademark abuse.” This is an increase of approximately 12 percent over 2017.
According to the WIPO Center:
WIPO UDRP cases in 2018 involved parties from 109 countries. The U.S., with 976 cases filed, remained the first-ranked filing country, followed by France (553), the U.K. (305), Germany (244), and Switzerland (193). (Annex 3)
The top three sectors of complainant activity were banking and finance (12% of all cases), biotechnology and pharmaceuticals (11%), and Internet and IT (11%). (Annex 4) Annex 5 provides the list of top WIPO UDRP filers in 2018.
Cases were decided by 318 panelists from 54 countries in 2018. The WIPO Center administered cases in 19 different languages.
WIPO also provides its domain name services for over 75 Country Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs). The domains. AI (Anguilla), .GE (Georgia), and .PY (Paraguay) were added in 2018. Disputes involving domain names registered in ccTLDs accounted for nearly 500 cases, almost 15% of WIPO’s 2018 caseload. WIPO significantly overhauled and expanded its posted party resources for ccTLD disputes.
As well as participating in other projects throughout 2018, the WIPO Center tackled the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) requirements by publishing informal guidance for trademark owners exploring UDRP filing. Because the GDPR has had an effect on “the accessibility of registrant information in ‘WhoIs’ domain name databases,” the Center “remains involved in ICANN discussions on a WhoIs access solution.” The WIPO Center also published a new “Guide to WIPO Mediation” as well as a model clause titled, “WIPO Mediation followed, in the absence of a settlement, by court litigation.”