Japan’s Tokyo and Osaka district courts will start an intellectual property mediation service in October 2019. The Tokyo district court published the operational guidelines for the new service on August 1.
The purpose of this service is to solve an IP dispute quickly through a discussion between both parties, by advice or opinion from a mediation committee which consists of three members – a judge in the IP division and two experts such IP attorneys.
This mediation tries to draw a conclusion in 3 to 6 months (within three times mediation meetings). The mediation committee discloses impression of the case. But also it may suggest the parties to solve the dispute through a lawsuit when the issue is complicated. In order to draw a conclusion quickly, both parties are required to submit all necessary documents (including evidence) prior to the first mediation meeting. The mediation is closed to the public, including the existence of a request for mediation.
When the parties agree to the settlement, it will be legally binding, same as a judgment. On the other hand, in case of failure, the parties are free to file a lawsuit to solve the dispute.
This mediation service is expected as alternative dispute resolution. However, according to the statistics published by Japan Intellectual Property Arbitration Center, there were less than 5 requests for mediation in recent years. So, this mediation service by the courts also may be not used much.
However, it has an advantage in the involvement of an active judge in mediation meetings. The parties can know what decision the court is likely to make, in a short period of time and at a low cost. Therefore, it may become a useful tool especially for SMEs.
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