Caldwell & Kearns, P.C.
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Resolving intellectual property disputes through arbitration, P.1

Mediation and arbitration can be effective avenues for resolving a wide variety of disputes. Each dispute, of course, involves unique considerations, among which are included the positions of each party on the points in dispute, each party’s ability and willingness to enter into negotiation, the area or areas of law involved in the dispute, and the likely outcome of the case if it went to court.

One area where mediation and arbitration can be used effectively is for intellectual property disputes, those involving copyright, patent and trademark rights. For businesses, it is important to secure and defend these rights, and there are multiple ways to do this. One way of doing so is to enter into an agreement which mandates the arbitration of disputes concerning intellectual property rights. 

Arbitration can be a valid way to resolve intellectual property rights disputes, but there are some things to keep in mind about doing so. First of all, intellectual property rights are created by federal statute. Although the federal courts have ultimate authority over determination of these rights, arbitration of intellectual property rights disputes has been upheld by some courts.

Intellectual property rights—particularly trademark and copyright validity and infringement cases—can be arbitrated, but there is no statutory authority to use arbitration for such disputes. One of the consequences of this is that resolving a trademark or copyright dispute through arbitration does not result in a decision which is binding on other disputes as it would be in a court of law. Rather, it only determines the rights of the parties to the dispute.

The situation with patents is similar, a point which we’ll pick up on in our next post. 

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