New scheme will subsidise cost of IP mediation disputes

Companies which opt for mediation in intellectual property disputes will soon be able to benefit from subsidies under a new scheme.

The IP Mediation Promotion Scheme will fund up to $5,500 of the costs of each mediation case, with effect from April 1.

The programme aims to encourage firms here to work towards "customised, win-win solutions", said the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (Ipos) yesterday.

It is expected to benefit parties in up to 30 IP disputes over the next three years.

Separately, five academics and legal professionals have been appointed as IP adjudicators. They will hear cases and serve for a two-year term from April 1.

Parties may appoint a mediation institution of their choice, such as the World Intellectual Property Organisation Arbitration and Mediation Center, Singapore International Mediation Centre or Singapore Mediation Centre.

The dispute must be mediated in Singapore to be eligible for the scheme.

"Mediation empowers businesses to take a cooperative, consensus-led approach towards resolving IP disputes," said Ms Chiam Lu Lin, Ipos deputy chief executive.

This will help foster a "pro-innovation environment" in Singapore, she added.

Professor David Llewelyn, the deputy dean of the Singapore Management University, said the programme will expand the range of dispute resolution options available in the IP field.

Prof Llewelyn, who has more than 30 years of experience in practising, writing about and teaching law and is one of the five adjudicators appointed under the scheme, added that it will "help bolster the growing reputation of Singapore's IP legal industry".

Ms Joyce Tan, the managing director of Joyce A. Tan & Partners, said the key benefit of mediation is that parties can go into it with "nothing to lose".

"In mediation, you're trying to find a solution that both parties can live with, so you have the opportunity to explore solutions that are more holistic," she said.

"The likelihood of parties being happy with the outcome is much higher because they participated in finding the solution."

Ms Tan added that the mediation process is also confidential, which means parties "feel more at liberty to explore creative solutions to the dispute resolution... It's even possible to come out of it with a transaction or business collaboration, not just dispute resolution".

Correction note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the five adjudicators will be appointed as part of the scheme. In fact, their appointment is a separate item. We are sorry for the error.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2016, with the headline New scheme will subsidise cost of IP mediation disputes. Subscribe