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Philippines pushes for online mediation

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Editha R Hechanova of Hechanova & Co Inc explains the main provisions of the two memorandum circulars that call for more effective mediation services

The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) has issued Memorandum Circular No. 2020-047 (the Amendments to the Revised Rules on Mediation) and Memorandum Circular No. 2020-048 (the Amendment to the Rules of Procedure for IPOPHL Mediation Outside of Litigation), which took effect on April 3 2021.

Voluntary online mediation was first offered by the IPOPHL in May 2020 to avoid the disruption of its adjudication services, as quarantine protocols to combat the pandemic were being enforced across the Philippines.

Having started offering mediation services in 2011, the IPOPHL has so far contributed in resolving about 30% of the disputes filed before its adjudication office, the Bureau of Legal Affairs (BLA). This  an impressive record which WIPO has recognised.

Memorandum Circular No. 2020-047

Mandatory online pre-mediation conference where the parties will be briefed on the mediation process, including the WIPO option for cases involving cross-border disputes;

The parties may still opt for a face-to-face physical mediation conference, and shall be free to determine the venue outside of the IPOPHL but all related expenses such as transportation, food, accommodation, etc. shall be borne by the parties or as they may agree upon;

Should the party who initiated the case fail to appear during the mediation or pay the mediation fees, the case shall be dismissed; and if the failure is the respondent’s, the latter shall be declared as in default;

If the mediation is successful, the parties shall submit by email their compromise agreement to the BLA’s alternative dispute resolution services, which will forward the same to the originating office, and if approved, the compromise agreement shall have the effect of a decision or judgment on the merits and shall be immediately executory; and

Should the parties fail to settle their dispute during the mediation period, the mediator shall declare the mediation as unsuccessful and terminate the proceedings by issuing a notice of non-settlement of dispute.

Memorandum Circular No. 2020-048

The memorandum allows parties to file a request for mediation before any action has been filed, and follows the same procedure as in Memorandum Circular No. 2020-047.

The WIPO option refers to the agreement between the IPOPHL and the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (WIPO-AMC), which enables IP disputes at IPOPHL to be referred to the WIPO-AMC, that assists parties in the selection of mediators and offers facilitation services, particularly for parties belonging to different jurisdictions.

To encourage the use of the WIPO option, the WIPO-AMC has waived the payment of its administration fee of $100 and reduced the mediator’s fee to the same rate as the IPOPHL’s mediation fee.

Editha R Hechanova

President, Hechanova & Co


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