Monday, 23 November 2009

"Tips for minimizing dispute settlement costs": can you help?

In a moment of inspiration or folly some weeks ago, I suggested the following title, "Keep it cheap: ten tips for minimizing dispute settlement costs everywhere", for a short article in an forthcoming issue of the WIPO Magazine which will focus on the cost of resolving intellectual property disputes. This suggestion was accepted.

My deadline is only ten days away and inspiration has yet to knock on my door. If any reader is possessed of one or more absolute truth with regard to keeping the cost of settling an IP dispute down, I'll be delighted to hear it (please post your suggestions below or email me here). All decent suggestions will be acknowledged on this weblog when the article is published.

The current online issue of the WIPO Magazine is available here.


  1. Don't start the dispute in the first place, just let it go. Sometimes companies exert IP rights just because there's a viable legal theory, not because it's causing any business harm. Think twice, sue once.

  2. I agree with the previous commenter. With my previous employer (industry), the CEO and other business managers were rather trigger happy on starting lawsuits against competitors in case of patent infringement.

    Fortunately, my manager - US Patent Attorney - usually was able to them out of that because it is so expensive in out-of-pocket cost, but also because it leads your focus away from market development. And in the latter case, you miss market, so you miss turnover, so you miss money.

    And if you really want to litigate, try to find the courts with the best quality/price ratio's, provided they have some authority. Well, if quality is good enough, such courts will have authority.

    Example for Europe: litigate in Germany and the Netherlands. A smart infringer or naughty proprietor of a soon to be invalidated patent will think twice with a decision in its disadvantage before continuing practices in other countries like Italy and Denmark.

  3. It is unclear what you mean with "dispute settlement costs". Are you addressing the dispute costs or the settlement costs ? One of the reasons why there is settlement is often because the parties want to stop the escalading growth of dispute costs. If settlement costs are concerned, it is assumed that this relates to the agreed costs for reaching settlement, but that is a matter of negotiation, so basically a matter of balance of the respective legal strengthes of the parties in the dispute. In that respect, one important tip is (but like for all negotiation) to know one's strengthes and weaknesses in the case, as well as the other partie's.