Since October 24, 2011, OHIM offers a mediation service in parallel to proceedings of appeal before the Board of Appeal. Said procedure allows the parties to reach an amicable settlement and suspends the appeal proceedings.
Mediation talks will normally be held in Alicante and the service itself is offered free of charge. A one-off fee is charged in the event that the parties wish to hold the mediation talks in Brussels in order to cover the traveling expenses of the mediator.
Mediation provides a swift and less costly alternative to litigation. It aims at bringing the parties together and assisting them in finding common ground on which a potential settlement may be made. The subject-matter of the mediation may, however, go beyond the scope of OHIM appeal proceedings and embrace future and present commercial and economic interests of the parties.
A team of eight qualified mediators has been drawn from various parts of the Office. They are all very experienced staff of the Office who underwent special training with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIARB) in London. Their CVs are published on the OHIM website so that the parties can require the services of a mediator in particular.
The parties retain control over the way the procedure is handled and its outcome. If the mediation fails, the appeal proceedings will resume from the point reached prior to the mediation. The mediator will never be involved in the appeal proceedings and is bound to keep the substance of the mediation confidential. Further, no record or files pertaining to the mediation will be retained by OHIM.
Depending on the success of this new service, the Office could consider to widen its scope to other appropriate stages of inter partes disputes. To be continued!