The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) will offer free mediation services to new requests for mediation up till August 31, 2020.
Free mediation services apply to disputes pending before Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), as well as any copyright disputes in Singapore.
Applicants with disputes pending before IPOS will be able to apply for IPOS’Enhanced Mediation Promotion Scheme (EMPS) to offset the costs of mediation-related legal costs.
This support especially helps businesses who may face economic difficulties during the global pandemic.
The parties also have complimentary access to WIPO’s online case management tool (WIPO eADR) and videoconferencing facilities, so they can resolve their disputes without physical travel.
IPOS successfully settled its first trademark dispute through virtual mediation.
The mediation, administered by WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (WIPO Center), took place over two consecutive full-day sessions during the COVID-19 ‘Circuit Breaker’ period in Singapore.
The online mediation session involved 10 participants engaged in the negotiation via videoconferencing. The parties achieved a win-win outcome,notwithstanding the disruptions and inconveniences brought by COVID-19.
The parties benefited from the time savings and cost efficiencies, as they were able to reach settlement without having to wait for the easing of the lockdown measures.
With the use of technology, the virtual meetings were able to maintain the integrity of the dispute resolution process. Parties had confidence in the process and were able to forge consensus online. As with standard mediation processes, the discussions between all the parties remained private and confidential.
Earlier this month, IPOS had separately also conducted its first opposition hearing by videoconference over Zoom, allowing parties to get an outcome expeditiously and safely.
With the increased use of digital tools and online modes of communication during COVID-19 and usage of tools become part of the new normal, virtual hearings and mediation may see greater adoption next time, even post-COVID.
Ms. Moi Sok Ling, Managing Director of MOI Law Corporation and mediator for the case, said: “Online mediation, which is convenient and cost/time effective,provides an attractive option for businesses looking to resolve their disputes with certainty and expediency. I am grateful for the opportunity to pioneer this development”.
Mr Erik Wilbers, Director of the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center, said:“Building on the WIPO Center’s extensive online dispute resolution experience,the success of this WIPO-IPOS case highlights the flexibility of mediation to adapt to parties’ needs in rapidly changing circumstances. Conducting the proceeding through virtual meetings added time and cost efficiencies, while maintaining the integrity of the dispute resolution process.”