Singapore to host regional centre for intellectual property disputes

28 July 2009 – Asia’s first centre for dealing with disputes related to intellectual property including trademarks, copyright and patent issues will open in Singapore, the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) reported today.

An agreement signed by WIPO and the Singaporean Government will pave the way for training and advice on procedures and provide a dedicated dispute resolution facility in the region, according to a joint communiqué.

The new centre is designed to complement the mediation work carried out by WIPO’s Geneva office, which was set up in 1994 and has handled a caseload of over 30,000 disputes since then with the amounts in dispute ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of millions of dollars.
Any parties may avail themselves of the dispute resolution procedures offered by the centre, regardless of nationality or domicile. They may be held anywhere in the world, in any language and under any law chosen by the parties.

“WIPO’s expertise in arbitration and mediation will be applied to the specific needs of the film sector,” said Francis Gurry, Director-General of WIPO. “This will dovetail with our efforts to achieve a conducive environment for the creation, anchoring and exploitation of media assets and intellectual property,” he added.

Given the rapidly expanding needs of the Asian film industry and corporate and technology sectors, Singapore’s role as an arbitration and legal hub for the intellectual property field made it an optimal location for this initiative, WIPO noted.

Of the many disputes submitted to the centre, disputes over registration of domain names constitute a large proportion of cases. WIPO is venturing into new territory in exploring what may constitute copyright infringement in the age of social networking, holding workshops and maintaining discussion boards on such vexing issues as whether “tweeting” is protected by copyright.

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