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Why mediation’s time has come

Courts are putting increasing pressure on litigants to settle out of court. But are IP owners (and their legal advisers) ready to rethink their dispute resolution strategies? Emma Barraclough reports

It might have been too much to hope that a multi-billion-dollar IP dispute spanning four continents and several years would be settled by a face-to-face chat between executives of two of the world's biggest technology companies. But don't let the failure of Apple and Samsung to resolve their patent wars out of court last month mislead you: mediation is here to stay. If you haven't been asked to take part already, the chances are that you will be soon.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) takes many forms along a sliding scale of formality. At one end is arbitration, which can be as formal as litigation but with the bonus (for some) of confidentiality. This kind of litigation-lite arbitration may involve pleadings and cross-examination of the parties. Further down the scale is evaluative mediation, and then expert evaluation, where a third party recommends how the dispute should settle. Then there is facilitative...

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