On September 7, 2021, the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO’s) Arbitration and Mediation Center published its Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms for Business-to-Business Digital Copyright- and Content-Related Disputes report (ADR report). The ADR report is based on a global survey that targeted key stakeholders in 129 countries.

The ADR report describes the increasing prevalence of ADR mechanisms in relation to copyright- and content-related business-to-business (B2B) disputes. It also identifies the copyright-intensive sectors and types of work that generate B2B disputes and characterizes the nature of the disputes (e.g., contractual or noncontractual). The ADR report further establishes the monetary value range of the claims and assesses the propensity for parties to settle. Finally, in addition to identifying the parties’ needs and preferences in relation to dispute settlement, the ADR report explores opportunities, challenges, advantages, and drawbacks of specialized ADR mechanisms in relation to these disputes. In particular, the report notes that the growing popularity of ADR to resolve intellectual property disputes is due to the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of ADR and the specialized technical knowledge of a neutral party.

In analyzing the results of the survey, WIPO found that more than 60% of the respondents had been involved in B2B digital copyright- and content-related disputes in the last five years. In particular, survey respondents identified the need to include mediation in legislation and the importance of online dispute resolution processes and tools. While noting the provisions referring to ADR in the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the European Digital Single Market Directive, the report notes that the WIPO ADR Center is further adapting the WIPO Expert Determination Rules to reflect best international practice for the resolution of user-uploaded content disputes by online content-sharing service providers.

The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

 The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center was established in 1994 in response to a changing business environment where intellectual property was increasingly being exploited at the international level in various forms of arrangements, such as licensing, technology transfer, and research and development agreements. The ADR Center advises parties and their lawyers on ways to resolve intellectual property disputes and provides them access to mediation, arbitration, and expedited arbitration, which are particularly suited for the resolution of international intellectual property disputes. In addition, the center provides expert determination — a procedure where a dispute or difference between parties is submitted, by agreement of the parties, to one or more experts — according to the WIPO Expert Determination Rules, and has developed recommended contract clauses for the submission of future disputes under a particular contract, as well as submission agreements for existing disputes.

The ADR Center received 77 mediation and arbitration cases from January through June 2021, the highest number of cases in a six-month period in its history. Most WIPO cases have been handled virtually since early 2020, and many parties have used the WIPO eADR online case management platform to conduct hearings and meetings. In addition to mediation and arbitration cases to settle domestic or cross-border commercial disputes, the ADR Center also provides domain name dispute resolution services under the WIPO-designed Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).

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