SIMC welcomes new collaboration with World Intellectual Property Organization to tackle IP and tech disputes

Posted in News October 26, 2020

The novel tie-up promotes the use of international mediation to resolve IP and technology disputes, which need efficient and effective solutions in the fast-moving digital world.

SINGAPORE — The Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC) is pleased to collaborate with the World Intellectual Property Organization’s[1] Arbitration and Mediation Center (WIPO Center) in a partnership to promote the use of mediation in the IP and technology sector.   

Under the agreement, the WIPO Center and SIMC will join hands on areas of common interest.  One area is case administration – this will potentially see both centres drawing on their respective strengths and successes, to help businesses resolve disputes successfully. Another area is raising awareness and education of mediation as an important tool to resolve IP and technology-related disputes. 

The collaboration responds to the urgent need to address the numerous forms of disputes that have arisen in the IP and technology sector, given the growing pervasiveness of technology. These include disagreements relating to IP, licensing, franchising and distribution agreements, research and development, and technology transfer agreements. Many of these disputes arise in Asia and are often of high risk and high value[2].  

To address the negative impact of IP and technology-related disputes, both centres will explore synergies, leveraging their track records. The WIPO Center has administered over 740 mediation, arbitration and expert determination cases, mostly filed in recent years. SIMC has administered about 130 mediations to-date, and is seeing growing interest in the mediation of IP and technology-related disputes (see Annex).

Across the IP and technology sector, businesses operating in the fast-moving digital age recognise the need for swift and effective resolution, which call for alternative forms of dispute resolution. Mediation is gaining traction given its multiple benefits. Business users value mediation for its confidentiality, cost savings, speed and neutrality[3]. As mediation is an amicable process, relationships are preserved despite the disagreements. Mediation is also effective, with at least 70% of disputes at the WIPO Center and SIMC seeing successful settlement. Further, through frameworks such as the Singapore Convention on Mediation and hybrid dispute resolution procedures, mediation outcomes have enforceability and finality, ensuring that parties comply with the terms of their settlement. 

To launch this collaboration, the WIPO Center and SIMC will hold a joint webinar on 27 October 2020. During this webinar, SIMC Chairman George Lim SC and Ignacio de Castro, Director of IP Disputes and External Relations Division at the WIPO Center, who signed the agreement earlier this year, will make opening remarks. During the webinar, experts will discuss recent trends and issues in IP and technology dispute settlement, including the growing need for expedited dispute resolution processes, how companies may take advantage of mediation to resolve disputes swiftly, and the significance of the Singapore Convention on Mediation.

SIMC Chairman George Lim SC (top right) and Ignacio de Castro, Director of IP Disputes and External Relations Division at the WIPO Center (top left) presenting the collaboration during a webinar on 27 October 2020.

Mr de Castro said: “The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center is delighted to conclude this strategic collaboration with SIMC, a leading mediation institution for international disputes in Singapore. We believe that this partnership will enable us to further contribute to the promotion of mediation for cross-border IP and technology disputes. We look forward to working with SIMC to support companies and innovators settle their disputes through more time and cost-effective alternatives to court litigation. Thanks to the work of WIPO mediators and the increased use of the free online tools[4] offered by the WIPO Center, parties in WIPO mediations have achieved an 85,7% settlement rate in 2020.”

Ms Chiara Accornero, Representative of the WIPO Center in Singapore, said: “Disputes, if not addressed early, can seriously affect a business’s operations. The WIPO Center provides efficient case management, including online tools, to facilitate dispute settlement. The WIPO Center has a strong track record in settling complex, high-value cases, as well as a global list of mediators who are experts in the different areas of IP and technology.”

Mr Lim said: “We can expect IP and tech-related disputes to grow, given the internationalisation of IP creation and exploitation, and cross-border regulatory issues. These are not to be ignored as companies in this space now find cross-border collaboration to be increasingly commonplace and necessary. Disputes arising from such projects can be complicated with significant impact on consumers, given the international footprint of tech companies.”  

“Finding all-rounded solutions that make commercial sense is a key feature of mediation. This minimises delays and protects long-term, multi-party relationships that are typical of many high-value technology projects. With the potential for both institutions to collaborate on cases, parties may now tap the synergies of two world-class institutions to consult for their disputes. We are pleased to partner with a world-class institution such as the WIPO Center and we look forward to a meaningful partnership.”

SIMC CEO Mr Chuan Wee Meng said: “This collaboration is a strong testament of both organisations’ commitment to helping businesses resolve disputes swiftly and effectively. Very often, bringing a matter to court is time consuming and costly, and may not always present an outcome that directly addresses the interests of parties. Around the world, the impact of the pandemic may affect the capacity of the courts and other adjudicative bodies. Mediation provides an alternative in suitable cases, for parties to obtain resolution swiftly in a way that other dispute resolution mechanisms cannot. For example, where there is disagreement at the onset of a potential dispute, early intervention with the involvement of a mediator may offer parties perspective and encourage win-win solutions, resolving matters painlessly and amicably.”  

[1] WIPO is a specialised agency of the United Nations.

[2] Queen Mary University International Dispute Resolution Survey 2016: Pre-empting and Resolving Technology, Media and Telecoms Disputes. Asia reported the greatest number of disputes (37% of respondents had experience of more than 20 disputes; 25% said their largest disputes was over USD100m).

[3] SIDRA International Dispute Resolution Survey 2020; Comparing User Perspectives of Factor Importance and User Satisfaction (p.9).