The WIPO Arbitration Center and Its Services – Vol. 5 No. 1-4

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AuthorFrancis Gurry*

Published: December 1994

Categories of Disputes
Commercial Disputes
Intellectual Property
International Institutions and Rules

Description: The present Forum occurs at about the half-way mark between the decision of the WIPO General Assembly, which was taken at the end of September last year, to establish the WIPO Arbitration Center and the date on which the Center is scheduled to commence operations, namely, in October of this year. The Forum thus provides an appropriate point at which to review, retrospectively, the reasons which motivated the establishment of the Center and which explain why it is believed that the Center has a useful role to play in relation to both the intellectual property and the arbitration communities, as well as to explain the way in which it is intended that that role should be played once the Center commences operations.


The underlying reason for the establishment of the Center was a belief in the specificity of intellectual property as a subject matter, and, thus, of disputes concerning intellectual property, coupled with the conviction that arbitration and other dispute-resolution alternatives offered particularly suitable means of accommodating the specific characteristics of intellectual property disputes.
The technical nature of the subject matter of intellectual property is a first cause of the specificity of intellectual property disputes. Once it could be said that technicality affected only the subject matter of patents and plant variety rights. The developments that have occurred over recent decades in communications and information technology, however, have brought large areas of copyright into the same category of highly technical subject matter requiring more than a passing familiarity for the application of legal principles. Certain adaptations in the State-administered court system, have, of course, been introduced in an endeavor to deal with the technicality of the subject matter of intellectual property. Specialized courts exist in a number of countries and the use of court-appointed experts is common. A facility for using specialized neutrals as arbitrators or mediators provides, however, an attractive alternative.

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*Director, WIPO Arbitration Center, World Intellectual Property Organization, Geneva.