When high-tech patent portfolios appear in the news, it is often as the product of an ongoing legal battle between competing firms. Yet according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), fewer than 2 percent of all tech-centric IP agreements lead to such formal dispute proceedings. What's more, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods that keep the two sides out of the courtroom often yield outcomes that are less expensive and more productive than those derived from traditional litigation.
In a recent survey of nearly 400 IP professionals across more than 60 countries, WIPO researchers set out to develop a more comprehensive perspective of dispute resolution best practices by conducting detailed interviews and analyzing existing court data.
"The survey confirms that parties to technology-related agreements are worried about the high costs and lengthy timelines of disputes, especially in an international context," WIPO chief Francis Gurry explained. "While court litigation remains the default path, survey respondents indicate that ADR offers attractive options in terms of cost and time, as well as enforceability, quality of outcome and confidentiality."
The study revealed that the average court trial required an average of 3 years and $475,000 to resolve in home jurisdictions. When the case took on international dimensions, those numbers rose to 3.5 and $850,000 respectively. Conversely, mediation methods only required an average of 8 months - and 91 percent of participants were able to keep costs below $100,000. Lastly, the study found that arbitration took an average of approximately 1 year and $400,000 to complete.