Most businesses derive a great deal of value from their intellectual property. As such, when someone infringes upon your IP rights, it’s important to be able to defend them. However, that doesn’t always require a lawsuit. IP litigation can be expensive, so alternative dispute resolution methods are often preferred.
Following are a few ways to quickly resolve an IP dispute without resorting to litigation.
Letter of Demand
Sometimes, a demand letter is all that’s needed in order to prevent an expensive lawsuit. Whether you’re having an issue with one of your partners or licensees, or if someone is using your copyrighted/trademarked material without your permission, a demand letter can discourage them from further misusing your IP.
Typically, a demand letter is the first step you’ll take in resolving an IP dispute. In your letter, you’ll demand that the offending party cease infringing upon your IP. You’ll also give details on your IP, what your rights are, how they were infringed, and how long the offending party has to stop.
If someone is using your intellectual property without your permission, one creative way to resolve the situation is to offer them a licensing agreement. If the situation appears to be one where you would both benefit, then such an agreement can not only prevent a lengthy and expensive legal battle, but it can also create a profitable business relationship.
That said, this isn’t always the best course to take, particularly if licensing your IP to the infringing party wouldn’t actually yield any real benefit.
In cases where IP infringements are more complex or where business relationships may be on the line, mediation can be a highly effective way to resolve an IP dispute. Through mediation, a neutral party (called a mediator) will facilitate a discussion between you and the other party with the end goal of reaching a mutually beneficial resolution.
Mediation is best for situations where the dispute centers around a business relationship with another organization. For example, if you’ve licensed a third party to use your patented designs to manufacture products for you and they in some way violate your agreement, mediation can help you resolve that situation at minimal cost.
If the situation is a bit too adversarial for mediation, arbitration can be a good route to take. However, it’s generally only effective if:
- You already have established rules and guidelines on how arbitration will be carried out.
- Discovery and other time-consuming processes are limited.
- All involved parties are either contracted or willing to participate in arbitration.
While arbitration can yield a binding solution, it’s mainly effective if both parties are willing to accept the results. A competent and neutral arbitrator is necessary if you want to avoid an endless appeals process.
Efficiently Resolving IP Disputes
When dealing with IP disputes, it’s important to choose the most efficient solution rather than seek justice at all costs. IP law in general can also be fairly complex, so it’s important to be able to navigate the process successfully.
Before deciding on a course of action, it’s vital to consult with an intellectual property lawyer. At Hart David Carson LLP, we have experience in both IP law and dispute resolution, so contact us to schedule a consultation.