NIPC Arbitration is a low cost dispute resolution service for intellectual property, technology, media and entertainment cases. The scheme is inspired by the highly successful domain name dispute resolution services that have been developed by ICANN and several country code domain name managers over the last 10 years.
The civil courts resolve disputes involving multinational companies, government agencies, major research universities and wealthy individuals able to bear the costs. Intellectual Property Office hearing officers resolve disputes that fall within its jurisdiction at a reasonable cost.
However, there are many disputes that fall outside the IPO’s jurisdiction where the parties cannot afford, or the value of the dispute does not justify, litigation in the Chancery Division or even the Patent or Chancery County Courts. Examples of such disputes are those that arise from
· Research collaboration agreements (“Lambert agreements”) between a university and a private company, firm or individual;
· Terms and conditions between service providers and their customers;
· End-user licence agreements, especially where the parties are in different countries; and
· Exchanges of letters before claim and responses under the Code of Practice for pre-action conduct in intellectual property disputes or the Practice Direction – Pre-action Conduct.
This service is intended to fill that lacuna.
First, it is fast. Statements of case have to be files and exchanged within very strict time limits. Disclosure is to be kept to a minimum. Witness statements and skeleton arguments are limited to 1,000 words each. All case management proceedings can be conducted entirely in writing. Unless the tribunal directs otherwise, arbitral proceedings follow as closely as possible the streamlined procedure set out in paragraph 8.6 of the Patents Court Guide.
Secondly, the service is cheap. Limits on disclosure and the length of witness statements and skeletons and the use of the streamlined disclosure mean that many disputes can be resolved without an oral hearing. Hearings that do take place rarely last for more than a day. Save for the company's fees and expenses and those of the arbitrator, costs are awarded in accordance with the same principles and on the same scale as in the Intellectual Property Office.
Thirdly, it is reliable. Every member of the arbitration panel is trained and experienced in intellectual property law and arbitration.
Arbitration is one of a number of alternatives to litigation. Others include mediation, expert determination and mini-trial. See Jane Lambert's articles on "Dispute Resolution" and "Alternative Dispute Resolution" on our NIPC Mediation site for further information.