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Singapore: IP alternative dispute resolution initiatives

In September 2011, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) to establish a joint dispute resolution procedure to facilitate the mediation of IP disputes before IPOS. The intent of this initiative was to promote mediation as an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) option within the IPOS framework, with potential advantages for international parties seeking to settle related disputes in multiple jurisdictions.

In recent years, IPOS has introduced new ADR initiatives to expand the options that applicants can consider for the satisfactory resolution of IP disputes, rather than the costly path of litigation. For example, an expert determination option was introduced in April 2014 allowing parties to mutually choose one or more technical experts to resolve technical issues in an IP disputes before settling or committing to mediation or arbitration.

In April this year, IPOS introduced a Mediation Promotion Scheme (MPS) whereby parties who opt for mediation in resolving IP disputes before IPOS will be funded up to S$5,500 (US$4,000) per mediation case, regardless of the outcome. Parties are free to appoint a mediation provider of their choice under the MPS, such as the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center, Singapore International Mediation Centre or Singapore Mediation Centre, as well as a mutually agreed upon mediator.

To be eligible for MPS, the parties must (1) submit an existing dispute before IPOS to mediation; (2) agree to the presence of an observer (shadow mediator) to sit in at the mediation; (3) provide feedback on the mediation; and (4) advise IPOS of the agent's fees. The procedural steps are relatively simple. They require that IPOS be informed of the intention to apply for funding before mediation starts and that an application form be submitted within one month from the date of the invoice from the mediation service provider.

This mediation initiative is aimed at further promoting the strengths of mediation as an attractive IP ADR option which can achieve a customised, win-win solution for all parties. Consequently, the hope of IPOS is that upon experiencing the benefits of mediation, parties will give serious consideration to electing the mediation option in future IPOS proceedings, even without external funding.

The MPS has been further complemented by the appointment in April of a panel of IP adjudicators at IPOS to give disputing parties the opportunity to have their cases heard by established academics and legal professionals. These initiatives demonstrate the continuing commitment of IPOS to expand the available ADR options and further the standing of Singapore's IP infrastructure not only in the ASEAN region but also globally.


Daniel Collopy

Alexander Hilton

Spruson & Ferguson (Asia) Pte Ltd152 Beach Road#37-05/06 Gateway EastSingapore 189721Tel: +65 6333 7200Fax: +65 6333

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