EUIPO mediation centre launched

Service aims to settle IP disputes in a single process avoiding the expense and complexity of litigation
Stuttgart, Germany - 10-17-2023: Person holding mobile phone with logo of European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) in front of web page. Focus on phone display. Unmodified photo.

T. Schneider; Shutterstock

The EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has launched a mediation centre providing alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services for IP disputes free of charge.

The centre, which opened on 22 November, includes mediation, conciliation and expert determination services – delivered through a multilingual team of mediators and case managers.

Furthermore, an online ADR platform will allow mediators and parties to interact virtually.

The EUIPO already oversees the registration of trademarks and designs throughout the EU and says the multilingual nature of the team offers users a wide choice of languages for greater convenience in negotiations.

Commenting on the launch, the executive director of the EUIPO, João Negrão, said the establishment of the mediation centre was a “major step” in supporting citizens and businesses in managing their IP rights effectively and helping avoid “expensive, unpredictable litigation processes when disputes arise”.

He continued: “With 42% of EU trademark applications coming from non-EU companies, cross-border disputes have become more and more common, highlighting the need for global and cost-effective dispute resolution services.”

Helping resolve disputes in a single process could be particularly useful for smaller businesses, the EUIPO notes, making settlements more affordable particularly in cross-border cases.

The Boards of Appeal of the EUIPO already provide mediation and conciliation of IP disputes, but the centre will now consolidate all the ADR services offered.

The boards are responsible for deciding on appeals against first instance decisions taken by the EUIPO concerning EU trademarks (EUTMs) and registered community designs. More than 2,600 disputes are submitted to them every year.

ADR services for first instance proceedings (EUTM cancellations, designs invalidities and EUTM oppositions) will be rolled out in a phased approach during 2024 and 2025. An ADR request may be presented by the parties at any time after the opening of the adversarial part of the proceedings.

Head of communications at the EUIPO, Julio Laporta, said the service is initially available for SMEs, but will be gradually extended to all users in 2024 and 2025.  

He added that by mutual agreement, the parties may also include disputes involving other intellectual property rights-related matters within the scope of the mediation process.

Laporta also points out that the scope of the eligible disputes of the EUIPO mediation centre is different to that of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) arbitration and mediation centre, as are the types of services provided by each organisation. But that they will continue to explore opportunities for collaboration, along with other ADR centres. 

The EUIPO is in charge of registering more than 170,000 EUTMs and 100,000 designs annually; these two unitary rights are valid across all EU member states.

On 16 November, a new EU scheme for geographical indications (GIs) for craft and industrial products came into force, which the EUIPO will be responsible for overseeing. 

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