Author: Robert Coulson*
Published: December 1994
Description: In recent years, many executives in the United States and elsewhere have been disenchanted by attempting to resolve disputes through court litigation. In the current legal environment, retaining an outside law firm to process a lawsuit has become a time-consuming and expensive ordeal. Many business firms have turned to less costly ways to resolve their disputes. This is particularly the case when a controversy involves intellectual property rights, which tend to be highly technical and complicated. Whether they involve licensing or the determination of property rights, the availability of an efficient, well informed system of private dispute resolution would be in the best interests of the parties involved. The World Intellectual Property Organization’s initiative to create such a system will be well received.
Most executives try to avoid litigation whenever possible. Through good faith negotiations, they can usually resolve their controversies directly with the other party or using a professional negotiator. By analyzing the dispute, creating an appropriate bargaining strategy, and engaging in good faith bargaining, most monetary claims can be settled at a reasonable cost.
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is an extension of negotiations. Besides refining traditional bargaining techniques, ADR utilizes dispute resolution methods such as mediation and neutral evaluation, which have proven successful in helping disputing parties reach prompt, rational and mutually agreed upon settlements. Because of the success of ADR, intellectual property executives should learn how these techniques work and how they can help disputing parties reach settlements.
In the United States, the American Arbitration Association (AAA) is well known for encouraging the use of ADR. As well as being the leading arbitration agency, the AAA has played a major role in sponsoring mediation and various other private dispute resolution procedures.
*President, American Arbitration Association (AAA), New York, New York.