Singapore International Mediation Centre partners with WIPO to promote international mediation

11 November 2020

Singapore International Mediation Centre partners with WIPO to promote international mediation

The Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC) intends to promote international mediation as a useful form of dispute resolution in intellectual property and technology.

With this end in view, SIMC has entered into a collaboration with WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center (WIPO Center). Under the partnership, businesses involved in IP and technology-related disputes can opt for international mediation by SMC/WIPO.

“I think both organizations recognized there is a recent shift of focus by businesses to Asia and in particular South East Asia - i.e., China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Thus, invariably, there would be cross-border agreements and I believe there is statistics to show that there was a recent increase in cross-border disputes in Asia,” said Daniel Poh, a partner at Marks & Clerk in Singapore.

The numbers are bound to increase further as technology becomes more prevalent, more IP is created and more technology companies decide to go for cross-border collaborations. This projected rise in IP and technology-related disputes can heavily affect consumers.

Poh added there is also the question of where the international mediation should be held and under what rules and procedures.

“My view is that the partnership between SIMC and WIPO aims to promote Singapore - and thus SIMC and WIPO with their experienced mediators and well-established rules and processes - as a neutral ground for resolving cross-border IP and technology-related disputes.”

He also believes that the SIMC-WIPO Center partnership to promote the use of international mediation is focusing on the technology sector because mediation is confidential. Court litigation is not.

“When disputes arise in the technology sector, these are likely to relate to IP, licensing, R&D and technology transfer agreements, etc, and these would very likely involve technology-sensitive information,” he explained, “and this is where the confidential nature of mediation can be very useful.”

The speed and swiftness of mediation, as long as it is managed properly, may be another reason, Poh added.

It is these characteristics of mediation that make it most suitable for the technology sector, a fast-moving field especially in the present digital age. If a dispute involving technology firms drags on, it may potentially damage the parties.

Commonly, mediation as an option for dispute resolution is provided for in a contract between two parties. In the absence of such contract, the parties may have to agree to a mediation and the place where this would be conducted.

“My view is that mediation would be useful when parties wish to achieve a win-win situation - since a mediator’s job is to work with the parties to reach an agreement - and due to the amicable nature of mediation, parties should consider mediation if they wish to preserve the business relationship despite the disagreement,” said Poh.

According to a news article posted in SMC’s website, “The WIPO Center has administered over 740 mediation, arbitration and expert determination cases, mostly filed in recent years. SIMC has administered about 130 mediations to-date and is seeing growing interest in the mediation of IP and technology-related disputes.”


Espie Angelica A. de Leon

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