THE intellectual property office said it will migrate most of its mediation services online starting in April to facilitate rulings on cases involving in cross-border intellectual property (IP) disputes.

According to circulars issued by the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL), the new mediation format is set to take effect on April 3.

The changes are expected to make its mediation services more attractive to small companies and foreign stakeholders working to resolve IP disputes, IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba said in a statement Wednesday.

Some offline or face-to-face mediation sessions will still be allowed if approved by the agency’s Bureau of Legal Affairs.

IPOPHL Bureau of Legal Affairs Director Nathaniel S. Arevalo said that the shift could make IPOPHL the first agency to implement end-to-end online mediation, from filing to settlement agreement submissions or termination.

The agency first offered online mediation options in May last year to continue delivering services during the most restrictive phase of the 2020 lockdown.

Meanwhile, IPOPHL said that IP disputes could again be referred to the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Arbitration and Mediation Center. The center helps parties choose mediators and offers facilitation services.

The center waived its $100 administration fee and matched its mediators fee to IPOPHL’s P4,000.

“The waived fee will encourage more parties to avail of the WIPO Option by paying the same amount as that of IPOPHL,” Mr. Arevalo said.

WIPO can help resolve disputes related to trademark opposition, administrative complaints for violation of IP rights, disputes involving technology transfer payments and disputes relating to the terms of a license involving the author’s rights to public performance or other communication of his or her work. — Jenina P. Ibañez