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INTA members boost their mediation skills

A multinational group of trademark professionals met yesterday to hone their mediation skills by working through a series of role plays. But they were taken out of their comfort zone with dispute scenarios where brand names weren’t at stake


A multinational group of trademark professionals met yesterday to hone their mediation skills by working through a series of role plays. But they were taken out of their comfort zone with dispute scenarios where brand names weren’t at stake.

“The fact patterns aren’t trademark-related,” explained INTA’s Char Clark. “If they were, the tendency would be for lawyers to get into their own headset.”

Instead, the 36 INTA members on the two and a half-day basic mediation course worked their way through three scenarios, including one focused on breaches of conflict and employee non-compete clauses. Obliging trademark professionals to work through disputes outside of their day-to-day work is designed to sharpen the skills they need to mediate disputes in any areas of the law. “It’s a great idea,” said William H. Frankel of Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione, one of the participants in the course. “Much of mediation is exploring the parties’ issues. They can be very divergent, even in trademark issues, although the techniques are the same”.

Day one saw a group of experienced mediators, led by Sandra A. Sellers of Technology Mediation Services, talk the 36 participants through mediation theory and act out some scenarios. On days two and three they got a chance to put theory into practice with interactive exercises and coached role plays, working in groups of six that were each assisted by an experienced mediator.

“Being a mediator comes naturally to some people but this training is invaluable in honing the skills you need,” said Kristin J. Achterhof of Katten Muchin Rosenman, another of the participants.

Achterhof and her fellow team members were enthusiastic about the benefits mediation offers to clients: It’s cost effective; enables the parties to develop creative solutions that the courts may not be in a position to provide; helps the parties to avoid the publicity that can accompany a lawsuit; offers them the ability to control when the dispute is resolved and a higher degree of certainty over the outcome; and its non-binding nature empowers the participants in a way that litigation cannot.

Mary Concilia Anchang of Onambele-Anchang & Associates in Cameroon, also taking the mediation course, said that mediation can be particularly useful in helping businesses resolve their disputes in jurisdictions where legal institutions are relatively weak.

“Africa has lots of infrastructure and other investment projects but doesn’t always have very strong legal institutions. We need flexible tools to give businesses the confidence to invest. Mediation can be a very effective tool.”

INTA has produced a video introducing mediation and explaining why it encourages members to use it to resolve their disputes. The video, with contributions from members including J. Scott Evans of Yahoo! and Toe Su Aung of BATMark, seeks to provides answers to eight questions: what is mediation; what is the difference between voluntary and mandatory mediation; why recommend mediation; is mediation a sign of weakness; when is the best time to mediate; what is the best way to choose a mediator; how much does mediation cost; and what to do when it fails. You can watch the video at

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